Englund J.K.Å., Elmeros M., Österdahl L.E.W. 2020. The need for consistent data collection for large-scale comparative studies illustrated by the study of morphology of the red fox Vulpes vulpes // Russian J. Theriol. Vol.19. No.1. P.99–103 [in English].
Jan K. Å. Englund [email@example.com], Kattfotsbacken 16, S-165 73 Hässelby, Sweden; Morten Elmeros [firstname.lastname@example.org], Department of Bioscience, Kalö, Aarhus University, Denmark; Lars E. W. Österdahl [L.E.O@ownit.nu], Swedish Museum of Natural History, SE-114 18 Stockholm, Sweden.
ABSTRACT. The size of mammals is often given as the head and body length (HBL). The condylobasal length of the skull (CBL) is also used as a measure of the size of mammals. The HBL in small mammals is mostly measured from the tip of the nose to the root of the tail. In species like whales, human beings and elephants, the measurements are not comparable with those from small mammals which in fact do not matter. On the contrary, it is of prime importance for the measurements taken within the same species to be comparable. If we deal with incomparable data from different authors or museums, it may result in false conclusions. In the present paper this problem is illustrated by the red fox Vulpes vulpes. The HBL in Scandinavian red fox is 4.43 to 4.54 times the CBL. Data in the literature indicates that European foxes outside Sweden have a HBL 4.54 to 4.96 times their CBL. The difference is probably an artifact of different measuring techniques. Therefore we believe that CBL gives better information about the size of the foxes. However, the length of the skull is far from ideal here, since the proportion HBL/CBL seems to vary geographically. We suggest that what has been measured and how the measurements have been taken must be carefully reported by the authors. The scientists would know then which data can certainly be used for an extended meta-analysis.
KEY WORDS: condylobasal length, head and body length, measuring technique, morphology, red fox, Scandinavia, Vulpes vulpes.