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Physiological aspects of population dynamics in European hares (Lepus europaeus)

Abstract
Populations of European hares have been declined during the last decades. It has been hypothesized that this was mainly due to a increase juvenile mortality. Therefore, we investigated postnatal development of captive juvenile European hares with respect to growth, food intake and thermoregulation. Leverets increased their body weight on average 8.5-fold within 35 days, with a peak in relative growth rate on day 8. Although leverets started to take up solid food in the second week of lactation, milk was the main energy source. Leverets of larger litters (2-3 young) had less energy supply via milk than those of smaller litters (1 young), and digested more energy in form of solid food. Weaning weight was positively correlated with body weight at birth and decreased with increasing litter size. Metabolic rates were largely determined by ambient temperature (Ta) and the increasing body weights. Leverets were able to maintain normothermic body temperatures from the first day of life during cold exposure down to Ta -8 °C. In their first week of life leverets showed reduced rates of heat loss in the cold, possibly by using peripheral vasoconstriction. Our results suggest that the precocial development of leverets is characterised by high maintenance costs due to rapid growth and thermoregulation, which may lead to negative energy balances when food supply is inadequate and Tas are low. We hypothesise that these physiological characteristics have played an important role in the recent decline of European hare populations.
Project leader
Arnold Walter
Duration
15.04.96-01.10.02
Type of Research
Applied research
Vetmed Research Units
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology
Funded by
Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Forschungsinstitutes für Wildtierkunde und Ökologie der Veterinärmedizinischen Universität Wien, , Austria
29 Publications

Hackländer, K (2003): Populationsdynamik von Feldhasenpopulationen im Marchfeld. Jagdgenossenschaft Lassee, Lassee, 2.9.2003. Jagdgenossenschaft Lassee, Lassee, 2.9.2003.

Hackländer, K (2003): Ecology of reproduction in L. europaeus. Irish Hare Workshop, Queen's University, Belfast, 5.11.2003. Irish Hare Workshop, Queen's University, Belfast, 5.11.2003.

Hackländer, K (2003): Ecophysiology of reproduction in European hares. Konrad-Lorenz-Institut für Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung Wien, 11.6.2003. Konrad-Lorenz-Institut für Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung Wien, 11.6.2003.

Hackländer,K (2003): Reproduktion und Nahrungsökologie bei weiblichen Feldhasen: Verknüpfungen zwischen Physiologie und angewandter Ökologie. Symposium Ökologie und Naturschutz in Forschung und Praxis, Wien, 12.7.2003. Symposium Ökologie und Naturschutz in Forschung und Praxis, Wien, 12.7.2003.

Hackländer, K (2003): Reproductive and nutritional aspects in female European hares: the link between physiology and applied ecology. Easter Conference of the British Mammal Society, Edinburgh, 29.3.2003. Easter Conference of the British Mammal Society, Edinburgh, 29.3.2003.

Hackländer, K (2003): Female reproduction and nutritional ecology in European hares. Bristol, 25.3.2003. Bristol, 25.3.2003.

Hackländer, K; Klansek, E; Steineck, T; Ruf, T (2003): Reproduction and juvenile mortality in European hare (Lepus europaeus) populations in intensive agriculture. Mammalian Biology 68,( Spec.Iss.).

Hackländer, K; Klansek, E; Steineck, T; Ruf, T (2003): Population dynamics in European hares (Lepus europaeus): The role of female fertility and juvenile mortality. European Mammalogy 2003, Brno, Juli 2003. European Mammalogy 2003, Brno, Juli 2003.

Tataruch, F; Hackländer, K; Ruf, T (2000): The effect of diet quality on lactation in European hares (Lepus europaeus). Reproduction in Domestic Animals 35,(1).

Steineck, T; Hackländer, K; Ruf, T (2000): Placental scars as an indicator for reproduction in European hares (Lepus europaeus). Reproduction in Domestic Animals 35,(1).

Ruf, T; Hackländer, K (2000): Energy budgets during female reproduction in female hares (Lepus europaeus). Reproduction in Domestic Animals 35,(1).

Hackländer, K; Ruf, T (2000): Litter size and reproductive energetics in female European hares (Lepus europaeus). Reproduction in Domestic Animals 35,(1).

Frisch, C (2000): Reproduktion und Populationsdichte beim Europäischen Feldhasen (Lepus europaeus). Diplomarbeit, Univ. Wien, pp. 74.

Hauhart, B (2002): Der Einfluss der Nahrung auf Reproduktion, postnatale Entwicklung und Thermoregulation beim Europäischen Feldhasen (Lepus europaeus). Diplomarbeit, Univ. Wien, pp. 48.

Ludescher, B; Suchentrunk, F; Klansek, E; Hackländer, K; Steineck, T (2002): Testing overdominance in Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) populations using a model that estimates female net reproduction. Mammalian Biology 67 (Suppl.): 26-27

Hackländer, K; Miedler, S; Beiglböck, C; Zenker, W Hackländer, K; Miedler, S; Beiglböck, C; Zenker, W (2002): Ultrasonography as a less invasive method to assess female reproduction and foetal development in European hares (Lepus europaeus). 4. International Symposium on Physiology and Behaviour of Wild and Zoo Animals, Berlin, Germany, SEP 29 - OCT 2, 2002. Advances in Ethology (37), Suppl. 136-136.

Hackländer, K; Miedler, S; Beiglböck, C; Zenker, W (2002): Prenatal development in European hares (Lepus europaeus). 76. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde, Bayreuth, Germany, SEP 23-25, 2002. Mammalian Biology (67), Suppl. 14-14.

Valencak, T (2002): Der Einfluß von Fettsäuren auf die Kälteanpassung beim Europäischen Feldhasen (Lepus europaeus). Diplomarbeit, Univ. Wien, pp. 53.

Hackländer, K; Arnold, W; Ruf, T (2002): Postnatal development and thermoregulation in the precocial European hare (Lepus europaeus). J Comp Physiol B. 2002; 172(2):183-190

Hackländer, K; Tataruch, F; Ruf, T (2002): The effect of dietary fat content on lactation energetics in the European hare (Lepus europaeus). Physiol Biochem Zool. 2002; 75(1):19-28

Ruf, T (2001): Reproduktion und Energiehaushalt des Feldhasen: Ökophysiologie einer gefährdeten Tierart. Zoologisches Kolloquium der Universität Wien, November 2001, Wien. Zoologisches Kolloquium der Universität Wien, November 2001, Wien.

Hackländer, K (2001): Energetik der Reproduktion und Populationsdynamik beim Europäischen Feldhasen. Diskussionsforum Wildtiere, Bern, Jänner 2001. Diskussionsforum Wildtiere, Bern, Jänner 2001.

Hackländer, K; Frisch, C; Klansek, E; Ruf, T (2001): On fertility of female European hares (L. europaeus) in areas of different population densities. The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001. The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001.

Ruf,T (2001): The energetics of reproduction in the brown hare (L. europaeus). The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001. The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001.

Hackländer, K (2001): Postnatal development and thermoregulation in European hares (L. europaeus). The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001. The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001.

Arnold, W (2001): Energy metabolism and fertility. The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001. The decline of European hares - an interdisciplinary research task, Berlin, April 2001.

Hauhart, B; Hackländer, K; Arnold, W; Ruf, T (2001): The effect of diet quality on reproduction and postnatal thermoregulation in European hares (Lepus europaeus). 75. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde, September 2001, Berlin. Mammalian Biology 66,(Suppl).

Hackländer, K (2001): Energiehaushalt, Thermoregulation und Reproduktion beim Europäischen Feldhasen (Lepus europaeus). Dissertation, Universität Wien, pp. 77.

Hackländer, K; Frisch, C; Klansek, E; Steineck, T; Ruf, T (2001): Die Fruchtbarkeit weiblicher Feldhasen (Lepus europaeus) aus Revieren mit unterschiedlicher Populationsdichte. Zeitschrift für Jagdwissenschaft (47) 100-110.

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