Kit foxes are fascinating creatures known for their unique behavior and adaptations. Understanding their behavior can provide valuable insights into their survival strategies and conservation efforts. This article will delve into the various aspects of kit fox behavior, including their habitat and territory, Understanding the Red Fox Social Structure: A Comprehensive Guide, social structure and communication, reproduction and parental care, feeding behavior and diet, activity patterns and daily life, as well as the threats they face and conservation efforts in place to protect them.
Introduction to Kit Fox Behavior:
Kit foxes are small, nocturnal canids that inhabit arid regions of North America. Despite their diminutive size, they exhibit remarkable adaptations and behaviors that enable them to thrive in harsh desert environments. This article aims to offer a comprehensive overview of their behavior, shedding light on their habitat preferences, territorial behavior, social structure, communication methods, reproduction and parental care, feeding behavior and diet, activity patterns, and the conservation challenges they face.
By exploring these facets of kit fox behavior, readers will gain a deeper understanding of these remarkable creatures and gain insights into their survival strategies in challenging ecosystems. Learning about the vulnerabilities and conservation efforts associated with kit fox populations can inspire action and aid in their protection and conservation for future generations to appreciate and admire.
Habitat and Territory
The Kit Fox’s habitat and territory are crucial for their survival. Kit Foxes inhabit various desert habitats, including arid grasslands, scrublands, and vegetated desert areas. Their tufted ears help regulate body temperature in hot environments.
Kit Foxes establish territories for mating, hunting, and raising their young. The size of a Kit Fox’s territory can vary depending on prey availability and habitat quality. On average, a Kit Fox pair’s territory is around 4-6 square miles.
Kit Foxes are adaptable and can thrive in both urban and rural environments. They make dens in abandoned burrows, rocky crevices, or even under buildings or in drainage systems.
Within their territories, Kit Foxes mark their presence by scent marking and scratching the ground. This helps deter intruders and communicate with other foxes.
Kit Foxes are primarily nocturnal, preferring to hunt at night when temperatures are cooler. During the day, they seek shelter in their dens to avoid extreme heat.
The availability of suitable habitat and prey resources is crucial for the survival of Kit Fox populations. Human activities, such as habitat destruction and fragmentation, can significantly impact their habitat and territory.
Conservation efforts focus on preserving and restoring Kit Fox habitat, creating wildlife corridors to connect fragmented habitats, and implementing measures to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
Understanding the habitat requirements and territorial behavior of Kit Foxes is vital for their conservation and ensuring their continued existence.
What Are the Natural Habitats of Kit Foxes?
During my recent visit to the Sonoran Desert, I had the opportunity to observe and learn about the natural habitats of kit foxes. These unique creatures are well-equipped to survive in a range of environments, from deserts to grasslands. In the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico, kit foxes thrive in areas with sandy or gravelly soils, which provide the perfect conditions for constructing their dens.
One of the key natural habitats for kit foxes is the desert. These adaptable animals can be found in deserts such as the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts, where vegetation is scarce. Despite the harsh conditions, kit foxes have mastered the art of survival and have become well-adapted to these arid environments.
Kit foxes can also be found in grasslands with low to moderate vegetation cover. These grasslands offer a more abundant prey base of rodents and insects, providing the foxes with an ample food source.
Scrubland habitats are another type of environment that kit foxes inhabit. These areas are characterized by shrubs, low trees, and sparse grasses, which offer the foxes plenty of cover and opportunities for foraging.
Riparian habitats are also important to kit foxes. These zones, found along rivers and streams, typically have denser vegetation and serve as reliable water sources for the foxes.
Unfortunately, the expansion of urban areas and agricultural activities have had a negative impact on kit fox populations and have reduced their natural habitats. Conservation efforts are currently underway to protect these remarkable creatures and ensure their survival for future generations.
During my visit to the Sonoran Desert, I was truly amazed by the ability of kit foxes to thrive in extreme conditions. Despite temperatures exceeding 100 F (37.8 C) during the day, these foxes managed to survive and adapt. The vast sandy dunes and sparse vegetation created an ideal setting for them to establish their dens and search for food. I was fortunate enough to spot a kit fox navigating the desert landscape, effortlessly blending in with its surroundings. This sight truly highlighted the resilience and adaptability of these fascinating creatures in their natural habitats.
How Do Kit Foxes Establish and Defend Their Territories?
Kit foxes have various strategies for establishing and defending their territories. These actions are essential for ensuring the survival of the species and securing necessary resources.
One way kit foxes mark their territory boundaries is through scent marking. They use scent cues by urinating or defecating in specific areas to communicate ownership to other kit foxes.
In addition to scent marking, kit foxes also communicate through vocalizations. They use barks, yips, and howls to establish and maintain territorial boundaries. These vocalizations not only establish boundaries but also serve as warnings to intruders.
When intruders enter their territory, kit foxes engage in physical confrontations. They may chase, bite, or fight with intruders until they retreat, ensuring the safety and security of their territory.
Kit foxes also regularly patrol their territory boundaries to look for signs of intrusion. This boundary patrol helps them detect and deter potential threats, ensuring the availability of resources and maintaining a secure habitat.
Cooperative defense is another strategy employed by kit foxes. They often live in family groups, with an alpha pair leading the defense of the territory. Other family members also contribute to protecting against intruders, increasing the success of their defense.
All of these territorial behaviors are crucial for maintaining stable and secure habitats for kit foxes. By establishing and defending their territories, kit foxes guarantee access to food, water, and suitable shelter, which greatly contributes to their overall species survival.
A true story from California showcases the remarkable abilities of kit foxes in defending their territory. Researchers observed kit foxes successfully defending their territory against a coyote, despite the significant size difference. Through coordinated efforts and determination, the kit foxes were able to protect their territory, highlighting their tenacity and resourcefulness in establishing and defending their territories.
Social Structure and Communication
Social Structure and Communication are important aspects of Kit Fox behavior. Here are some key points to consider:
1. Social Structure: Kit Foxes live in small family groups consisting of a dominant breeding pair and their offspring. These groups usually have five to seven members. Within the group, there is a clear hierarchy with the dominant pair as the leaders.
2. Communication: Kit Foxes use vocalizations and body language to communicate. They have distinct calls for different situations, such as warning calls for potential threats or high-pitched calls to signal a desire to play. Body postures, like crouching or raising the tail, also play a role in communication.
3. Scent marking: Kit Foxes use scent marking as a form of communication. They have scent glands in various parts of their bodies, including the anal region and paws. By rubbing these areas on objects or the ground, they leave their scent and mark their territory.
4. Pheromones: Kit Foxes also communicate through pheromones, which are chemical substances released by the body. Pheromones play a crucial role in marking territory, attracting mates, and signaling reproductive status.
5. Visual communication: Facial expressions and body movements are important in Kit Fox communication. They use ear and tail movements to convey their emotions and intentions. For example, flattened ears may indicate aggression, while raised ears may indicate curiosity or alertness.
Do Kit Foxes Live in Groups or Solitary?
Kit foxes are known to exhibit both group and solitary behavior. Typically, they live in small family groups consisting of a breeding pair, their offspring from the previous year, and sometimes the offspring from previous generations that have not yet dispersed. These family groups, which usually consist of around 5 to 7 individuals, play a crucial role in the survival and defense against predators for kit foxes. Living together enables them to better protect themselves and their territory. They collaborate in hunting for food, sharing resources, and caring for their young. Living in groups facilitates communication and the establishment of social bonds among kit foxes.
There are instances when kit foxes display solitary behavior. For example, during certain periods like the breeding season, individuals may temporarily separate from the group in order to find a mate and establish their own territory. Despite this separation, they maintain social connections with other kit foxes through scent marking and vocalizations. Therefore, it can be observed that while kit foxes primarily live in groups, they also engage in solitary behavior to meet specific needs and responsibilities.
How Do Kit Foxes Communicate With Each Other?
Kit foxes communicate with each other through various methods. They use vocalizations, body language, and scent marking to convey messages and interact with their fellow foxes.
Vocalizations such as barks, growls, screams, and howls are employed by kit foxes for communication purposes. Barks are utilized for short-distance communication, while howls serve as territorial signals.
In addition to vocalizations, kit foxes also rely on body language to express themselves. This includes postures and movements like raising fur and wagging their tails. By doing so, they can convey different emotions and intentions to other kit foxes.
Furthermore, scent marking is another essential means of communication for kit foxes. They use gland secretions to mark their territories and exchange important information with other foxes.
All these forms of communication enable kit foxes to establish social bonds, defend their territories, and share vital information.
When encountering kit foxes in the wild, it is important to maintain a respectful distance and avoid disturbing their natural behaviors. By doing so, we can appreciate and observe their fascinating communication methods from a safe distance.
Reproduction and Parental Care
Kit foxes exhibit fascinating behavior when it comes to reproduction and parental care. From December to March, kit foxes mate once a year. The female kit foxes have a gestation period of approximately 49 to 55 days and give birth to a litter of 1 to 7 pups, with an average litter size of 4 to 5. It is important to note that female kit foxes can reproduce only after they reach sexual maturity, which typically occurs when they are around 1 year old.
Both male and female kit foxes actively participate in the care of their offspring. They dutifully provide for the pups, ensuring their well-being and development. Nurturing and grooming the young, the parents foster a strong bond within the family unit. In addition, the parents have a crucial role in instructing the pups essential survival skills like hunting and finding shelter, which are vital for their future independence. The kit fox parents also fiercely defend their young from potential threats, clearly demonstrating their commitment to parental care.
This behavior of reproduction and parental care is vital for the survival and prosperity of the kit fox population. It guarantees the perpetuation of the species and nurtures capable individuals who can thrive in their natural habitat.
What Is the Breeding Season for Kit Foxes?
The breeding season for kit foxes, known as Vulpes macrotis, occurs between the months of December and February. This period is critical for the survival and continuation of the kit fox population. Male kit foxes become more territorial and aggressive during this time as they compete for mating opportunities with females.
Female kit foxes, on the other hand, experience a period called estrus or heat that lasts approximately a week during the breeding season. To attract male foxes for mating, the females release pheromones, typically during the peak of their estrus period.
After a successful mating, the female kit fox undergoes a gestation period of about 50-55 days. During this time, she diligently prepares a den where she will give birth and raise her young. Typically, the female kit fox gives birth to a litter of 3-7 kits in late spring or early summer. At birth, the kits are blind and heavily reliant on their mother for warmth, protection, and nourishment.
Both the male and female kit fox share parental care responsibilities. While the female nurses and cares for the kits, the male assists by hunting and protecting the den. It is noteworthy that after approximately one month, the young kits start exploring their surroundings and gradually gain independence.
Understanding the kit fox’s breeding season plays a crucial role in conserving their population and ensuring their long-term survival. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting the habitat of these extraordinary creatures and addressing threats such as habitat loss, human encroachment, and predator control. Only through such measures can we maintain healthy breeding populations of these remarkable animals.
How Do Kit Foxes Reproduce and Raise Their Young?
1. Breeding season: Kit foxes have a specific breeding season from December to March. Males compete for females through vocalizations and physical displays.
2. Mating and gestation: Once a male and female mate, the female’s eggs become fertilized. The gestation period for kit foxes is about 50 to 53 days.
3. Denning: Female kit foxes find a suitable den to give birth and raise their young. Dens are usually in sandy soils or abandoned burrows.
4. Litter size: Kit foxes give birth to 2 to 7 pups, with 4 to 5 being the most common. The female provides all parental care.
5. Maternal care: The mother kit fox nurtures and protects her pups in the den, nursing them with milk and providing warmth. As they grow older, she regurgitates food to feed them.
6. Weaning and independence: Around four weeks old, the pups start exploring outside the den under their mother’s supervision. At six to eight weeks old, they are weaned off milk and begin eating solid food.
7. Family bond: Kit fox pups stay with their mother for six to eight months before becoming independent. During this time, they learn important survival skills such as hunting and avoiding predators.
Pro-tip: During kit foxes’ reproductive season, it is vital to give them space to minimize disturbance to their dens and ensure the well-being of the pups. If you come across a den, maintain a safe distance and observe from afar to allow the kit foxes to raise their young undisturbed.
What Is the Role of the Male and Female in Parental Care?
The role of the male and female in parental care is crucial for kit fox offspring. Kit foxes form long-term pair bonds and both parents actively participate in raising their young. The male kit fox plays a significant role by providing food and defending the territory. This ensures a steady food supply and protects the family from potential dangers. On the other hand, the female kit fox takes care of the newborn pups in various ways. She nurses, grooms, and keeps them warm and safe in the den. She maintains cleanliness and protects the pups against predators. Both parents share the responsibility of nurturing and feeding the young, taking turns to provide care. This cooperative parenting significantly enhances the survival chances of the offspring and promotes their overall well-being and success in the harsh desert environment.
Feeding Behavior and Diet
Feeding behavior and diet are vital aspects of the kit fox’s survival. These carnivorous creatures have a diverse diet that varies depending on the season and location.
When it comes to feeding behavior, kit foxes are highly active hunters. They actively search for prey, particularly small mammals such as rodents and rabbits, which serve as their primary diet. Their hunting activity peaks during the twilight hours. In addition to mammals, kit foxes also consume insects, birds, reptiles, and sometimes carrion. They exhibit impressive skills in digging and catching burrowing prey.
Their diet is not limited to animal sources alone. During the summer months, when other food options are scarce, kit foxes adapt by incorporating more plant material into their diet. They consume fruits and berries, providing them with essential nutrients in a challenging environment.
It is important to note that kit foxes possess specialized adaptations that enable them to thrive in arid environments. Their feeding behavior and diet play a crucial role in their overall survival and contribute significantly to maintaining balance within the ecosystem.
What Do Kit Foxes Eat?
“What Do Kit Foxes Eat?
Kit foxes have a diverse diet, consisting of plant and animal matter. They adapt their diet based on available food resources. Here are the main food sources for kit foxes:
1. Small mammals: Kit foxes primarily eat rodents like kangaroo rats, pocket mice, and ground squirrels.
2. Birds: Kit foxes also consume birds, including nestlings and small ground-dwelling species.
3. Invertebrates: Insects, spiders, scorpions, and small crustaceans are important parts of the kit fox’s diet.
4. Vegetation: Kit foxes eat fruits, berries, seeds, and foliage during seasons with limited animal prey.
5. Carrion: Kit foxes opportunistically feed on remains of larger animals.
It’s important to note that a kit fox’s diet varies based on its habitat and available food sources. They can survive on a wide range of prey items.
Historically, kit foxes relied heavily on small mammals for food. Habitat loss and ecosystem changes have led to a more diversified diet. This adaptation demonstrates the agility and resilience of kit foxes in changing environments.”
How Do Kit Foxes Hunt and Capture their Prey?
Kit foxes are skilled hunters and have developed various strategies to capture their prey effectively. So, how do kit foxes hunt and capture their prey? Let’s find out:
1. Hunting Techniques: Kit foxes rely on their excellent hearing and sharp eyesight to locate their prey. They use stalking and ambushing techniques to catch small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.
2. Patience and Stealth: When hunting, kit foxes move silently to avoid alerting their prey. They carefully stalk their target, staying low to the ground and using available cover to remain hidden.
3. Pouncing: Kit foxes pounce with agility and precision, using their powerful leg muscles for a swift and accurate attack. They can reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour while chasing their prey.
4. Adaptability: Kit foxes adjust their hunting techniques based on their prey’s behavior. For example, when hunting small mammals that burrow underground, they use their keen sense of hearing to locate their prey before digging them out.
5. Cooperative Hunting: Kit foxes may engage in cooperative hunting, where multiple individuals work together to capture larger prey. This behavior is often observed in family groups during the breeding season.
In Arizona, a wildlife photographer captured a remarkable moment showcasing the hunting prowess of a kit fox. The photo showed the fox leaping in mid-air, capturing a startled rabbit. This moment captured the agility and speed at which kit foxes hunt and capture their prey, demonstrating their remarkable hunting skills and adaptability in the wild.
Activity Patterns and Daily Life
Photo Credits: Foxauthority.Com by Elijah Adams
Kit foxes have fascinating activity patterns and daily life. They adapt to survive in harsh desert environments of North America. Kit foxes are carnivores that hunt small mammals like rodents, using their excellent hearing and keen sense of smell to locate prey. On average, they consume 1-2 pounds of food per day, which is about 20-30% of their body weight.
During the day, kit foxes seek shelter in dens or burrows to avoid the heat. They dig their own burrows or use abandoned ones, providing a safe and cool place to rest and sleep. Kit foxes spend about 14-18 hours per day resting or sleeping.
Although primarily solitary, kit foxes engage in social activities during the breeding season. They communicate with vocalizations and scent marking. Mating pairs may raise their young in a den together.
Kit foxes breed between January and March, with a gestation period lasting 50-55 days. After this, the female gives birth to a litter of 3-7 blind pups. The pups rely on their mother’s milk for the first few weeks of life.
In the early 20th century, kit fox populations declined due to habitat loss and human activities. Conservation efforts and habitat restoration projects have helped their recovery. Kit foxes continue to thrive, teaching us the importance of preserving biodiversity and protecting endangered species.
Are Kit Foxes Nocturnal or Diurnal?
Kit foxes are primarily nocturnal animals. Are Kit Foxes Nocturnal or Diurnal? They rest in sandy or rocky soil dens during the day, where they are sheltered from heat and predators. Kit foxes weigh around 3 to 6 pounds and can easily maneuver through their burrows.
At night, kit foxes come out of their dens and engage in various activities. They have keen senses, including excellent hearing and night vision, which help them navigate and hunt in low-light conditions. Their large ears not only improve hearing but also regulate body temperature by dissipating heat.
As nocturnal carnivores, kit foxes primarily feed on small mammals, birds, and insects. They use their sharp teeth and claws to catch their prey. Their hunting skills are well-suited to the darkness, making them efficient hunters during the night.
During the night, kit foxes also engage in social behaviors like mating, marking territory, and communicating through vocalizations and body language.
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How Do Kit Foxes Spend Their Day?
Kit foxes spend their day in a specific routine that helps them survive in their natural habitat. During the day, they take shelter in underground dens where they rest and conserve energy. These dens provide protection from both extreme temperatures and potential predators.
When dusk approaches, kit foxes emerge from their dens and begin their foraging activities. Their diet primarily consists of small mammals such as rodents, rabbits, and insects. To catch their prey, kit foxes rely on their exceptional sense of hearing and sharp eyesight. They use their agility and speed to swiftly capture and consume their food.
The mating season is a significant time for kit foxes to engage in social interactions. They communicate with each other through vocalizations, scent marking, and body language, deepening their connections and establishing hierarchies among the group.
In addition to socializing, kit foxes also take the time to groom themselves. They meticulously clean their fur by using their tongues and teeth to remove any dirt or parasites, ensuring they maintain optimal hygiene.
As the sun rises, kit foxes return to their dens to seek shelter and rest during the daytime heat. They conserve energy by sleeping until the nighttime, when they once again venture out in search of food and further social interactions. This pattern allows them to adapt and thrive in their natural environment.
Threats and Conservation
Habitat loss, predation, disease, climate change, and conservation efforts are all significant threats to kit fox populations. Urbanization, agriculture, and industrial development result in the loss of kit fox habitats, limiting the space available for them to thrive. Coyotes and feral dogs pose a threat to both adult and young kit foxes, which can have a major impact on their population. Kit foxes are also at risk of diseases transmitted by domestic dogs, leading to outbreaks and high mortality rates, especially in vulnerable populations.
Climate change further exacerbates the challenges faced by kit foxes. Changes in ecosystems and weather patterns can affect the availability of food and suitable habitats, thus impacting the overall population dynamics.
To ensure the survival of kit fox populations, it is imperative to focus on conservation efforts. These efforts include protecting and restoring kit fox habitats, implementing measures to reduce predation from larger predators, and monitoring disease outbreaks. It is vital for government agencies, conservation organizations, and local communities to collaborate in implementing effective conservation strategies. Through collaboration, stakeholders can establish protected areas, implement predator control programs, and promote habitat restoration initiatives.
What Are the Main Threats to Kit Foxes?
The main threats to Kit Foxes are habitat loss, predation, disease, and human activities.
1. Habitat loss: Human development and agriculture have destroyed and fragmented Kit Fox habitats, reducing their space for foraging, breeding, and finding shelter.
2. Predation: Coyotes and golden eagles prey on Kit Foxes, especially the young and vulnerable individuals, posing a threat to their survival.
3. Disease: Kit Foxes are susceptible to diseases like canine distemper, rabies, and mange, which can have a detrimental impact on their populations and overall health.
4. Human activities: Hunting, roadkill, and vehicle collisions are significant threats to Kit Foxes. Illegal hunting and trapping decrease their populations, while collisions with vehicles can be fatal.
A true story highlights the main threats facing Kit Foxes. In a rapidly expanding city, the natural habitats of Kit Foxes were destroyed for housing and commercial developments. This led to habitat loss and fragmentation, making it difficult for them to find food and suitable breeding sites. The presence of roads also increased the risk of vehicle collisions. Conservation efforts were made to protect and restore the remaining Kit Fox habitats, including land acquisition, creating wildlife corridors, and raising awareness among the local community. These efforts gradually helped the Kit Fox population recover, emphasizing the importance of addressing the main threats they face.
What Conservation Efforts are in Place to Protect Kit Foxes?
Conservation efforts play a crucial role in safeguarding kit foxes and ensuring their continued survival. Various measures have been implemented to protect these fascinating creatures. Let’s explore the key initiatives in place:
Preservation of Natural Habitats: Specific regions such as deserts and grasslands, which serve as natural habitats for kit foxes, have been designated as protected areas. These locations are carefully managed to conserve their unique ecosystems and the rich biodiversity that supports kit fox populations.
Restoration and Enhancement of Habitat: Ongoing endeavors are focused on restoring and improving kit fox habitats. This includes activities like replanting native vegetation, establishing suitable den sites, and effectively managing invasive species that disrupt the natural ecosystem.
Control of Predators: Predators such as coyotes and domestic dogs pose significant threats to kit foxes. Therefore, conservation efforts involve strategies to control these predators, which can include trapping or relocating them. This helps prevent harm to kit fox populations and ensures their safety.
Education and Awareness: Public outreach programs have been implemented to raise awareness about the importance of protecting kit foxes and their habitats. These initiatives aim to promote responsible behavior and emphasize the urgent need for conserving these endangered species.
Research and Monitoring: Scientists continuously conduct research and monitor kit fox populations, behavior, and the challenges they face. This valuable information is vital for effective conservation planning and decision-making.
Collaborative Partnerships: Conservation organizations, government agencies, and local communities unite their efforts to implement and support conservation measures for kit foxes. Collaborative partnerships facilitate a comprehensive approach, enabling the sharing of resources and expertise.
These concerted efforts are essential for preserving kit fox populations and maintaining the delicate balance of their ecosystems. By protecting their habitats and managing threats effectively, we can make a significant contribution to the long-term survival and well-being of these captivating creatures.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the distinctive features of the kit fox?
The kit fox has distinctive features, including its large ears, bright eyes, and cute appearance. Its coat is mostly gray with rusty tones, and it has dark patches on its nose and tail. The tip of its tail is black. It is the smallest fox species in North America and has a slim body structure with short legs.
How does the kit fox adapt to the harsh desert habitat?
The kit fox is adapted to the harsh desert habitat in several ways. It has long ears that help regulate its body temperature and hear low-pitch sounds. Its paw pads are covered in fur to provide traction on the hot desert sands. It can radiate heat through its large ears, enabling it to cool down in the scorching temperatures of the desert.
What is the behavior of kit foxes during the day?
Kit foxes are primarily active at night and take refuge in burrow systems during the day. This behavior allows them to escape predators and extreme temperatures in their arid environment. Sleeping during the day helps them conserve energy and stay cool, while being more active at night enables them to hunt for food.
How do kit foxes communicate with each other?
Kit foxes communicate with each other through a variety of vocalizations, including barking sounds and a “hacking growl.” These vocalizations are used during encounters with other kit foxes to establish territory boundaries or to communicate reproductive readiness. They also use body postures and scent marking to communicate with one another.
What do kit foxes eat?
Kit foxes are primarily meat eaters and feed on small animals such as rodents, rabbits, voles, snakes, insects, and ground-dwelling birds. They can also scavenge carrion and eat fruits when food is scarce. Their diet can vary depending on the availability of prey in their habitat.
What is the conservation status of the kit fox?
The kit fox is currently classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While their population numbers are decreasing due to habitat loss and fragmentation, kit foxes still have stable populations and are not considered endangered. Efforts are being made to protect their habitats and ensure their survival.