A large-scale survey of brown hare Lepus europaeus and Iberian hare L. granatensis populations at the limit of their ranges
Christian Gortazar, Javier Millán, Pelayo Acevedo, Marco A. Escudero, Javier Marco & Daniel Fernández de Luco
Gortazar, C., Millán, J., Acevedo, P., Escudero, M.A., Marco, J. & Fernández de Luco, D. 2007: A large-scale survey of brown hare Lepus europaeus and Iberian hare L. granatensis populations at the limit of their ranges. - Wildl. Biol. 13: 244-251.
The historical ranges of the European brown hare Lepus europaeus and the Iberian hare L. granatensis meet in Aragón in northeastern Spain. We studied the relative abundances and the population trends of the two species in 60 localities (13 for the brown hare, 38 for the Iberian hare, and nine from the transition zone where both species are present) by spotlighting in winter during 1992-2002. We carried out a total of 1,407 counts covering 41,511 km. Both the Iberian (132.2 ± 33.2 hares/100 km; range: 52-192) and the brown hare (106.7 ± 26.8; range: 53-136) were more abundant in their respective zones than both species combined in the transition zone (90.9 ± 50.5, range: 37-157). The highest Iberian hare abundances were recorded in the northern Iberian Mountains, an area with well-preserved cereal-dominated ecosystems and a less extreme climate than in other parts of the study area. The Iberian hare had significant inter-annual differences both locally and generally, which was mainly due to a peak in 1998, and this species showed a general positive trend during the study period, suggesting that Iberian hare numbers are increasing. Contrary to the marked declines reported from other European regions, the brown hare abundance indices obtained in the Spanish Pyrenees during our study period remained stable.
Key words: hare, Lepus europaeus, Lepus granatensis, population trend, relative abundance, Spain, spotlighting
Christian Gortazar, Javier Millán* & Pelayo Acevedo, Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos (IREC, CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), P.O. Box 535, E-13080 Ciudad Real, Spain - e-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (Christian Gortazar); email@example.com (Javier Millán); firstname.lastname@example.org (Pelayo Acevedo)
Marco A. Escudero & Javier Marco, Ebronatura S.L., Camino de Cabezón s.n., E-50730 El Burgo de Ebro (Zaragoza), Spain - e-mail addresses: email@example.com (Marco A. Escudero); firstname.lastname@example.org (Javier Marco)
Daniel Fernández de Luco, SEDIFAS, Universidad de Zaragoza, Miguel Servet 177, E-50013 Zaragoza, Spain - e-mail: email@example.com
*Present address: Department of Conservation Biology, Estación Biológica de Doñana, E-41013 Sevilla, Spain
Corresponding author: Javier Millán
Received 10 February 2003, accepted 31 May 2006
Associate Editor: Heikki Henttonen