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Hunting harvest data in Sweden indicate precipitous decline in the native mountain hare subspecies Lepus timidus sylvaticus (heath hare)

Thulin, Carl-Gustaf and Winiger, A. and Tallian, A.G. and Kindberg, Jonas (2021). Hunting harvest data in Sweden indicate precipitous decline in the native mountain hare subspecies Lepus timidus sylvaticus (heath hare). Journal for Nature Conservation. 64 , 126069
[Research article]

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Abstract

Brown hare (Lepus europaeus) seems to outcompete mountain hare (L. timidus) wherever the two species co-occur, but few studies have validated or even addressed this issue. In southern Sweden, the distribution of non-native brown hare overlaps with that of the mountain hare subspecies heath hare (L. t. sylvaticus), possibly the only mammalian subspecies unique to Sweden. In any competitive interaction, at least one species is negatively affected. If outcompetition occurs, then population trends over geographical areas where both species occur should be correlated. In order to assess this, we analysed Swedish hunting harvest data on brown hare and mountain hare for correlations on different spatial scales. We also assessed the relative importance of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) for hare populations by incorporating hunting harvest data for red fox in the analysis. A decline in hunting harvest was observed for both hare species throughout Sweden, while harvest of foxes increased. The harvest decline in mountain hare was generally larger than that in brown hare, particularly in the southern half of Sweden where heath hare is the dominant mountain hare subspecies. Observed patterns in the hunting harvest data for southern Sweden indicate an alarming declining trend for heath hare subspecies, with an obvious risk of extinction. In combination with continued research efforts, we suggest an adaptive management programme to preserve and restore the heath hare subspecies in its current range, through a network of 'reservoir islands' with supplementary translocation of heath hare. Developing and implementing an educational public outreach programme aimed at local hunting and naturalist associations can also help facilitate heath hare conservation.

Authors/Creators:Thulin, Carl-Gustaf and Winiger, A. and Tallian, A.G. and Kindberg, Jonas
Title:Hunting harvest data in Sweden indicate precipitous decline in the native mountain hare subspecies Lepus timidus sylvaticus (heath hare)
Series Name/Journal:Journal for Nature Conservation
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:64
Article number:126069
Number of Pages:9
Publisher:ELSEVIER GMBH
ISSN:1617-1381
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 405 Other Agricultural Sciences > Fish and Wildlife Management
Keywords:Hunting harvest data, Alternative stable state, Hare, Lepus, Interaction, Competition, Predation
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-114332
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-114332
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1016/j.jnc.2021.126069
Web of Science (WoS)000709046700001
ID Code:26115
Faculty:VH - Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science
S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(VH) > Dept. of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry
(S) > Dept. of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:16 Nov 2021 05:25
Metadata Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 06:01

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