Use of habitat by sympatric Brown hare (Lepus europaeus) and wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was investigated in a farmland area of western Tuscany from 1999 to 2011. We used spotlight counts in winter and indirect surveys on faecal pellet counts in spring–summer. The density of Brown hare increased during the study period, whereas the European rabbit population crashed in 2010 after a European Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) outbreak.The results of the use of habitat type differed between the observations obtained during the spotlight census and the observations obtained from the indirect surveys carried out using faecal pellet counts.The two lagomorph populations showed a great habitat overlap; however, European rabbits seem to live at a shorter distance from permanent cover such as hedgerows and woods and seem to prefer uncultivated fields and permanent crops such as olive tree groves that offer more protection from avian predators. Brown hares seem to prefer more open habitat such as arable crops and this resulted in them being less selective than European rabbits. The differences found in habitat use have probably enabled the two species to coexist for many decades and can be used to manage these lagomorphs.

Density and habitat use of sympatric Brown hares and European rabbits in a Mediterranean farmland area of Tuscany (Central Italy)

BAGLIACCA, MARCO;PACI, GISELLA
2015

Abstract

Use of habitat by sympatric Brown hare (Lepus europaeus) and wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was investigated in a farmland area of western Tuscany from 1999 to 2011. We used spotlight counts in winter and indirect surveys on faecal pellet counts in spring–summer. The density of Brown hare increased during the study period, whereas the European rabbit population crashed in 2010 after a European Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) outbreak.The results of the use of habitat type differed between the observations obtained during the spotlight census and the observations obtained from the indirect surveys carried out using faecal pellet counts.The two lagomorph populations showed a great habitat overlap; however, European rabbits seem to live at a shorter distance from permanent cover such as hedgerows and woods and seem to prefer uncultivated fields and permanent crops such as olive tree groves that offer more protection from avian predators. Brown hares seem to prefer more open habitat such as arable crops and this resulted in them being less selective than European rabbits. The differences found in habitat use have probably enabled the two species to coexist for many decades and can be used to manage these lagomorphs.
Santilli, F.; Bagliacca, Marco; Paci, Gisella
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/335467
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