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Outfoxed: Red and Gray Fox Niches and Adaptations

Summary: The goal of wildlife ecologists is to study how wild animals interact with their environment. One of the most common questions wildlife ecologists ask is where certain species live, and conservation biologists add to this question, asking how humans impact where species choose to live. This lesson uses online tools and data from the Smithsonian’s Urban to Wild camera trapping project to find out how two different fox species use the habitat available to them, how their adaptations help them live in different habitats, and how humans affect these species.

Key Questions:

  • What is a niche?

  • How can closely related species live together?

  • What is a generalist vs. a specialist, and how are they affected by human activity?

  • What are adaptations, and what specific adaptations help species exploit certain niches?

Learning Goals:

After completing this activity, students will be able to:

  • Understand niches and niche partitioning

  • Be able to recognize generalist and specialist species

  • Make a bar graph in Excel/Google Sheets


Two 50 minute class periods


* Lesson plans are available in .doc format for easy customization. This lesson includes 4 sections for easy download. Please contact us with any questions or problems.

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