I’ve noticed that the UK observations of Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are often logged as the European Red Fox sub-species (Vulpes vulpes crucigera). I’m not saying this is wrong but from what I’ve been reading it’s basically impossible to tell a sub-species from photos. What is the recommended ID protocol in this situation? Should I suggest Vulpes vulpes or just not add an ID at all?
It’s the only subspecies in the UK, so there should be no confusion, but to be fair this ssp is added even to foxes in areas where other spp. should be instead, so someone cleaning fox situation is needed. As ider, you can add non-disagreeing species ids or ask observers if they’re ok with that instead of subspecies id.
Part of the problem is that there isn’t really a clear description of the differences in the sub-species, and surely if both exist in the UK then it also must be considered that there would be hybrids. I suspect many records of the European sub-species are just people clicking that ID because the UK is in Europe and thus the fox must be the European sub-species. This article is helpful https://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/questions/answer/is-the-british-red-fox-different-subspecies-to-that-in-europe-asia and says:
The question of whether subspecies or breeds of foxes exist in Britain may never be fully resolved, but most recent authors have adopted the view of Gordon Corbet who, in his 1978 book The Mammals of the Palaearctic Region, concluded that the continuity of the Red fox’s range is so great that it’s doubtful any discrete subspecies can be recognised.
Consequently, the majority of biologists now consider that Vulpes vulpes is just a highly variable species that ranges throughout Europe and Asia and do not attempt to categorize it further.