• Survival and activity patterns of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) in interior Alaska

      Feierabend, Dashiell S.; Kielland, Knut; Powell, Abby; Barboza, Perry (2013-08)
      Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) survival depends on the interaction of habitat characteristics with numerous biological and environmental variables. In boreal regions where considerable habitat heterogeneity exists, hares balance food availability with predation risk by moving among habitats seasonally, but it is largely unknown how often they move at shorter time scales. I investigated the seasonal effects of habitat, weather, and individual hare characteristics on survival and movement in two common but fundamentally different boreal habitats. Survival was highest in summer, for hares with higher body condition, and in black spruce rather than early successional forest. Hares moved among core use areas in different habitats twice per day on average, using more open areas at night when they were presumably feeding on preferred browse. Movement rates were lowest in mid-afternoon when hares appeared to be resting under dense cover. Behavior of individuals varied greatly with some hares repeatedly moving up to 1 km between defined patches in less than 5 hours and others remaining roughly within a 1 ha area. These findings illustrate the complexity of snowshoe hare ecology in an area where habitat variation promotes daily movement of hares among radically different habitats over a few hundred meters.