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Mountain Hare Populations on Islands - Effects of Predation by Red Fox
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5535-9086
1989 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 81, no 3, 335-340 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

On islands off the west coast of Sweden the density of mountain hares (Lepus timidus L.) is very high. One of the main predators on hares, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes L.), is only present during short periods. Data on hare density and predation by red fox and eagle owl (Bubo bubo (L.)) has been analyzed from five islands over several years. Winter mortality in years with low predation pressure was independent of hare density. But when red fox or eagle owl were present on islands (i.e., high predation pressure) winter mortality became density dependent. Thus, at low density, winter mortality did not increase through red fox predation. But at densities up to two hares/ha, predation pressure was increasing and could be limiting for these populations. At still higher hare density predation pressure became less intensive. The functional response for foxes preying on hares showed a type II or a sigmoid type III response pattern. In normal summers, the population increase due to reproduction was at least two-fold. When a fox was present there was instead a sharp decrease in hare numbers. Fox predation had a stronger effect in summer than in winter. By switching between islands and mainland areas from winter to summer, a fox can stabilize fluctuations in hare numbers on the islands. This is dependent on how often the ice permits a fox to reach an island and the lack of numerical response by predators.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Springer Verlag , 1989. Vol. 81, no 3, 335-340 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-29665ISBN: 0029-8549OAI: diva2:234709
ISI Document Delivery No.: CA528 Times Cited: 15 Cited Reference Count: 34Available from: 2009-09-10 Created: 2009-09-10 Last updated: 2014-10-13Bibliographically approved

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Angerbjörn, Anders
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