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1 June 2014 Movements, activity patterns, and habitat use of snowshoe hares ( Lepus americanus) in interior Alaska
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Abstract

Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are generally sedentary, but are likely to move among habitats frequently to gain access to spatially segregated food and cover. We investigated movement patterns of hares from 2 characteristic boreal habitats using very-high-frequency radio collars (n = 300) monitored weekly and global positioning system (GPS) collars (n = 18) programmed to record locations at 30–120-min intervals. We used collar recoveries (n = 203) to estimate distance from capture to mortality site. Approximately 90% of collars were recovered within 1 km of their deployment locations, the greatest distances being recorded in winter. We used locations of GPS-collared hares to estimate seasonal home range sizes, habitat use, and diel patterns of movement among and within habitats. Seasonal home ranges were 3–6 ha in size, depending on season and habitat. Hares used multiple habitat types on a daily basis. Movement rates, based on animal locations recorded every 2 h, varied 4-fold between peak and nadir. The majority of movements between habitat types coincided with times when hares were most active. Our findings show that hares may use multiple vegetation types even when food and cover are apparently abundant in a single habitat. Hares move between these areas on a daily basis, probably to make use of better foraging opportunities in one location and return to resting sites in dense cover in a different location.

Dashiell Feierabend and Knut Kielland "Movements, activity patterns, and habitat use of snowshoe hares ( Lepus americanus) in interior Alaska," Journal of Mammalogy 95(3), 525-533, (1 June 2014). https://doi.org/10.1644/13-MAMM-A-199
Received: 15 August 2013; Accepted: 1 February 2014; Published: 1 June 2014
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