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Natal dispersal of European hare in a high-density population

Abstract : Despite the importance of conservation and management of the European hare, a game species that has declined throughout Europe, little is known about its natal dispersal process. To date, only one radio-tracking study in a mixed cropping-farmed landscape provides a fine description of the dispersal pattern of this species. The study shows in particular a negative density dependence dispersal, juvenile hares dispersing more in a low-density hunting zone rather than in a high density non-hunting zone. Unfortunately, the effect of conspecific density on dispersal remains ambiguous due to the confounding effect of hunting. To provide more insight into the influence of conspecific numbers on the dispersal propensity in hares, we renewed the study in a harvested high density population. Our results confirmed the known sex-biased and age-related dispersal in this species but we did not find any effect of the birth site density on either the propensity to disperse or the distance moved in juvenile hares. Overall, the dispersal rate and bias were equal to those previously found in the high density non-hunting zone, where density was almost the same as in our population even though hunting pressure differed. Our results emphasize that natal dispersal is a ubiquitous feature in this species, which may respond more to density than hunting.
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https://hal-univ-lyon1.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02303164
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Alexis Avril, Yves Léonard, Jérôme Letty, Régis Péroux, Jean-Sébastien Guitton, et al.. Natal dispersal of European hare in a high-density population. Mammalian Biology: Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, 2011, 76, pp.148-156. ⟨10.1016/j.mambio.2010.07.001⟩. ⟨hal-02303164⟩

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