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4 December 2018 Dietary Preferences in Relation to Food Availability during Spring Season for the Cape Hare Lepus capensis in Arid Areas
Mohsen Chammem, Yamna Karssene, Mohsen Jarray, Fengqing Li, Touhami Khorchani
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Abstract

In Africa, the Cape hare (Lepus capensis) population is under threat from multiple stresses. For its efficient conservation planning, it is crucial to provide comprehensive information on various ecological aspects. To this end, we assessed the dietary composition of the Cape hare in relation to food availability in the North Sahara Desert. The investigation was conducted in spring in three Tunisian National parks (i.e., Bouhedma, Sidi Toui, and Jbil) with typical arid and desert ecosystems. Food availability was estimated using the quadrat point approach for each park while diet composition was assessed using microhistological analysis of faecal samples. Results revealed that 19 of 98 plant species were consumed by Cape hares. Poaceae family, present in all three parks, was the primary source of food. Asteraceae and Brassicaceae were the next most preferred diets. Woody species were eaten but their proportion in the diet depended on the availability of herbaceous plants. Our results tend to show that Cape hares select high quality diet depending on the availability of food, but further studies across four seasons at different spatial scales may eventually lead to further information about these issues.

© The Mammal Society of Japan
Mohsen Chammem, Yamna Karssene, Mohsen Jarray, Fengqing Li, and Touhami Khorchani "Dietary Preferences in Relation to Food Availability during Spring Season for the Cape Hare Lepus capensis in Arid Areas," Mammal Study 44(1), 13-21, (4 December 2018). https://doi.org/10.3106/ms2018-0004
Received: 15 January 2018; Accepted: 17 September 2018; Published: 4 December 2018
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KEYWORDS
dietary selection
food availability
Lepus capensis
microhistological analysis
southern Tunisia
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