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Influence of Understory Characteristics on Snowshoe Hare Habitat Use and Density

John A. Litvaitis, James A. Sherburne and John A. Bissonette
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 49, No. 4 (Oct., 1985), pp. 866-873
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3801359
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3801359
Page Count: 8
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Influence of Understory Characteristics on Snowshoe Hare Habitat Use and Density
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Abstract

The influence of forest understory characteristics on snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) habitat use and density was studied in eastern (Cherryfield) and western (Pierce Pond) Maine during 1981-83. Fecal pellet counts indicated that hares at Cherryfield preferred hardwood and avoided mixedwood and open understories during the leaf-off season (Oct-May) (P < 0.05). At Pierce Pond, hares used softwood more and hardwood and open understories less than expected during leaf off (P < 0.05). Hardwood understories provided the densest cover at Cherryfield, whereas at Pierce Pond softwoods were the densest cover. Hares in both areas used dense understories less during the leaf-on season (Jun-Sep). Spring population densities (0.1-1.7/ha) were correlated with understory density (r = 0.94, P < 0.001). Overwinter survival also was associated with understory density (r = 0.74, P < 0.04). Dense understories provided escape and thermal cover.

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