Habitat Use of the Snowshoe Hare

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Habitat Use of the Snowshoe Hare. Melissa Pacheco Winter Ecology Spring 2010. Mountain Research Station, University of Colorado, Boulder. Introduction. How does the snowshoe hare (lepus americanus) allocate time between different habitats?
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Habitat Use of the Snowshoe Hare Melissa Pacheco Winter Ecology Spring 2010 Mountain Research Station, University of Colorado, Boulder Introduction How does the snowshoe hare (lepus americanus) allocate time between different habitats? How does the spatial structure of the forest affect the habitat use of the snowshoe hare? IntroductionSpecifically between two environments Semi-closed lodge pole pine forest Semi-open aspen and willow grove Introduction Literature suggests:
  • Hare avoid open areas due to predation risks(Orr, 1982)
  • Shrubs are not an important component of cover (Malaney, 2006)
  • Variety of vegetative features are important (Monzón, 2004)
  • In Utah, lodgepole pine habitats were used much more extensively then aspen habitats (Dolbeer,, 1975) Hypothesis: There will be more evidence of snowshoe hare activity in the semi-closed environment.
  • Introduction
  • Relevance to ecology:
  • Snowshoe hare are essential to ecosystems that they live in 
  • Predators include: foxes, coyotes, wolves, lynx, bobcats, mink, weasels, owls, mountain lions, hawks, & wolverine (Shefferly, 2007)
  • considered a keystone species (Kurta, 1995) depending on ecosystem
  • Gain knowledge of the ecology of important species
  • Methods
  • Randomly selected study area with semi-open habitat bordered by semi-closed environment
  • Stretched 100m field tape along border
  • Random number generator picked 4 values
  • 9,26,71,91
  • Walked either side of field tape for 10m at corresponding distances
  • Recorded presence of hare tracks and depth into each environment
  • Methods Semi-open Habitat Semi-closed Habitat
  • 100m field tape
  • 10m transect into each microhabitat
  • Stream
  • Semi-closed Habitat Semi-open Habitat Methods Limitations of study design
  • Data collect required good weather/ snow conditions
  • Depth into habitat had no meaning
  • Study area included stream
  • Data TNP- tracks not present Data Semi-open Habitat Semi-closed Habitat
  • 100m field tape
  • 10m transect into each microhabitat
  • Stream
  • Observed Tracks
  • Data Abundance Frequency Results Results
  • Difference in abundance is not significant
  • Frequencies between habitats were equal
  • Discussion
  • Frequency suggests similar distribution between habitats
  • Fail to reject null hypothesis
  • Both habitats are likely to contain important features
  • Type of predator may influence cover required
  • Complimentary habitats being used in same way
  • Discussion
  • Spatial structure not only factor differentiating habitats
  • May have found different effect in other mountain winter ecosystems
  • Possible sources of error
  • Not enough data, need replicates
  • Can not tell if tracks came from same individual or from separate SSH
  • Conclusion
  • Frequency suggests similar distribution between habitats
  • Both habitats likely include important features for snowshoe hare ecology
  • Complementary habitats
  • Special Thanks My Mother & Justin D’Atri Questions? Literature Cited Dolebeer, R. A., C. R. Willam. “Population Ecology of Snowshoe Hares in the Central Rocky Mountains” The Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Jul., 1975) pp. 535-549 Kurta, A. 1995. Mammals of the Great Lakes Region. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Malaney, J. L., J. K. Frey. “Summer Habitat Use by Snowshoehare and Cottontail at Their Southern Zone of Sympatry” The Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 70, No. 3 (Jun., 2006), pp. 877-883 Monzón, A., P. Fernandes, and N. Rodrigues. "Vegetation structure descriptors regulating the presence of wild rabbit in the National Park of Peneda-Gerês, Portugal." European Journal of Wildlife Research 50.1 (2004): 1-6. Print. Orr, C., D. G. Dodds. “Snowshoe Hare Habitat Preferences in Nova Scotia Spruce-Fir Forests” Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Summer, 1982), pp. 147-150  Shefferly, N. 2007. "Lepusamericanus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 06, 2010 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lepus_americanus.html.
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