An experimental study of red fox predation on arctic and snowshoe hares

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1992
Authors:Small, RJ, Keith, LB
Journal:Canadian Journal of Zoology
Date Published:1992
Keywords:Lynx lynx, Vulpes vulpes

Tested the relative vulnerability of arctic (Lepus arcticus) and snowshoe (Lepus americanus) hares to predation by Vulpes vulpes on three islands off Newfoundland's SW coast. Arctic hares were significantly more vulnerable than snowshoe hares to fox predation: they were killed at a higher rate, and though the probability of death increased slightly for arctic hares over a trial period, it decreased for snowshoe hares. Rates of fox predation on arctic hares were inversely related to home-range size and nutritional status; predation on snowshoe hares was inversely related to the percentage of home-range core areas with dense understory cover. Arctic hare's greater vulnerability to fox predation, found in this study, coupled with its apparent inability to utilize food resources in forested areas that support snowshoe hares, largely accounts for the current restriction of arctic hares in Newfoundland to certain mountain and coastal barrens. The status of arctic hare populations before the introduction of snowshoe hares in unclear, but distribution and abundance likely decreased as red foxes and lynx Lynx canadensis increased and began to cycle with snowshoe hares. "

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