The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
The Importance of Supporting Engineering Education
The Importance of Supporting Engineering Education
February 20, 2024

In today's era of information technology, engineering plays the role of a vanguard, trying to optimize processes and develop new products, making...

Island fox colony requires genetic rescue to survive, according to CSU researchers

Without genetic rescue, researchers believe the island foxes of San Nicolas island could go extinct. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)
Without genetic rescue, researchers believe the island foxes of San Nicolas Island could go extinct. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.)

A colony of island foxes on San Nicolas Island in California could require drastic measures to be taken to prevent extinction, according to research led by CSU biology associate professor Chris Funk. The island belongs to the Channel Islands, a chain of eight islands existing off the coast of the Golden State.

While the actual population of the foxes on the island hangs around the 200 mark, CSU biology professor Cameron Ghalambor said the effective population of the colony is only two. An effective population is a measure of the level of genetic diversity within a colony of the same species. 


Funk and his team believe the most viable solution for saving the colony will be to pursue genetic rescue, a method of introducing other members of the same species into the affected colony.

“If we let the population persist, they could go extinct,” Ghalambor said. “More variation means more capacity to … respond to change.”

To begin the process, other colonies of island foxes that live on other islands in the Channel Islands would be brought to San Nicolas Island, according to Ghalambor. However, there is a concern that foxes from other islands would be too adapted to their current habitats to survive after being transplanted to the new location.

“For the most part, once you’re on an island, you’re stuck there,” Ghalambor said. “There is a pattern of isolation.”

There is no timeline set in stone for the plan to be put into action, and any action taken to move the foxes to San Nicolas Island may first have to be approved by a Navy base that exists on the island, due to ecological concerns.

Colorado State University Biology Department Chair Mike Antolin said any colony of animals with a lack of genetic diversity faces issues both with the species’ reproduction and ability to adapt to its environment.

“With a lack of genetic diversity, a couple things happen,” Antolin said. “There is less ability to adapt to a changing habitat, problems with inbreeding … and there could be a higher percentage of genetic diseases.”

Genetic rescue is not a new concept, and has been implemented successfully with the Florida black panther. Once on the edge of extinction, the panther has made a near-full recovery after genetically-compatible panthers were introduced from Texas. 

“The panther males were infertile and couldn’t breed,” Ghalambor said. “Genetic rescue worked well for the panther, and for bighorn sheep as well.”


Ghalambor stressed the need to recognize the importance of the foxes, and pointed to the successes of the other colonies in the Channel Islands as examples of the benefit of human interference.

“They look shabby, and just looking at them, their fur seems really mangled compared to other islands,” Ghalambor said. “They are a charismatic species, and a good indicator species for the islands. While the population is not doing as well as the others, the real story is a major success story because it wasn’t only a few years ago when every population wasn’t doing well.”

Collegian News Editor Erik Petrovich can be reached at or via Twitter @EAPetrovich.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Hey, thanks for visiting!
We’d like to ask you to please disable your ad blocker when looking at our site — advertising revenue directly supports our student journalists and allows us to bring you more content like this.

Comments (1)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    St Anthonio Orphanage HomeMar 30, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    I never knew God love me to this extent. Brothers and
    Sisters this is my story. I have been married for over 6 years and I was unable
    to have a child, the doctor says I have issues with my womb, so I undergo
    several treatments, but none worked for me. I was about going for adoption. But
    few years ago I meant with someone who introduced me to a herbal doctor, she
    said the herbal doctor helped her friend with herbal medicine and her friend
    could conceive and have a child, so she advised me to try the herbal way. This
    is a thing I have never thought of in my life because I have never used any
    herbal medicine since I was given birth to. But I decided to key in and try the
    herbal doctor remedy. So I contacted him, his name is Doctor Uwadia Amenifo and
    he prepared the herbs for me, and I started to take it. I took it for some
    time, and he advised me on time to have sex with my husband so I continue and
    was doing according to his direction. Behold to cut the story short I took in,
    and I conceive and bear a child. Today I can boldly say I am a happy mother.
    Please if you are out there and you are thinking of adopting a child just
    because the doctor said to you that you cannot have your own child, I want to
    say no, don’t adopt any child just contact doctor Uwadia Amenifo, and let him
    give you his herbal medicine that will open up your womb. And I assure you in
    no time you will have your own baby. His contact details are email
    ( and his phone number is (+2349052015874).