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The recent expansion of the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in Sweden with possible implications to the mountain hare (L. timidus)

The recent expansion of the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in Sweden with possible implications to... The brown hare (Lepus europaeus) expanded its Swedish distribution since the 1980s northwards and locally to new areas within its former range. Of 115 brown hare populations within the former range reported in a hunter enquiry, those established after 1980 were situated higher above the sea level than older ones and higher than neighbouring (<50 km) older populations. Reports on increased use of forest habitats by brown hares were equally frequent among recent and older populations, suggesting a process promoted solely by less harsh winters. Supposed hare hybrids were more often reported from hunting grounds with recent brown hare establishment, i.e. where the species expands in time and in space. In a 27-year dataset on brown hare observations, the recent increased use of forest habitats was supported in that maximum distances to agricultural land for brown hare sightings were higher in mild winters, whereas the proportions of the annual observations made during winter were lower. In 40-year bag records from two Swedish counties, the dynamics of the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) responded positively to snow parameters, whereas brown hares responded negatively. We suggest that the state of mountain hare populations primarily depends on winter conditions and predation pressure, whereas possible effects of hybridization are unclear. If winter conditions remain as in the last 15 years, mountain hare numbers are not likely to increase in southern Sweden, whereas the brown hare may expand even further. In either case, hybrids will occur in sympatric areas in frequencies probably related to the density of the respective true species. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Journal of Wildlife Research Springer Journals

The recent expansion of the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) in Sweden with possible implications to the mountain hare (L. timidus)

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References (26)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 by Springer-Verlag
Subject
Life Sciences; Animal Ecology; Zoology
ISSN
1612-4642
eISSN
1439-0574
DOI
10.1007/s10344-007-0086-2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The brown hare (Lepus europaeus) expanded its Swedish distribution since the 1980s northwards and locally to new areas within its former range. Of 115 brown hare populations within the former range reported in a hunter enquiry, those established after 1980 were situated higher above the sea level than older ones and higher than neighbouring (<50 km) older populations. Reports on increased use of forest habitats by brown hares were equally frequent among recent and older populations, suggesting a process promoted solely by less harsh winters. Supposed hare hybrids were more often reported from hunting grounds with recent brown hare establishment, i.e. where the species expands in time and in space. In a 27-year dataset on brown hare observations, the recent increased use of forest habitats was supported in that maximum distances to agricultural land for brown hare sightings were higher in mild winters, whereas the proportions of the annual observations made during winter were lower. In 40-year bag records from two Swedish counties, the dynamics of the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) responded positively to snow parameters, whereas brown hares responded negatively. We suggest that the state of mountain hare populations primarily depends on winter conditions and predation pressure, whereas possible effects of hybridization are unclear. If winter conditions remain as in the last 15 years, mountain hare numbers are not likely to increase in southern Sweden, whereas the brown hare may expand even further. In either case, hybrids will occur in sympatric areas in frequencies probably related to the density of the respective true species.

Journal

European Journal of Wildlife ResearchSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 25, 2007

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