Effect of late winter food addition on numbers and movements of snowshoe hares
- Cite this article as:
- Boutin, S. Oecologia (1984) 62: 393. doi:10.1007/BF00384273
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Peak (1980) and early decline (1981) populations of snowshoe hares were supplied with extra food in late winter to test the hypothesis that snowshoe hare populations are limited by food supply. Food supplemented populations increased through immigration in both years but the response was more pronounced in the early decline population. Animals supplied with extra food lost less weight, had higher survival in some cases, and males began to breed earlier. Immigrants to the food addition area were of two types: those that established home ranges on or near the area and those that spent only a brief time there before returning to their initial range. The possibility that these latter individuals were prevented from remaining on the food grid by residents is discussed. Results indicate that food supply is one factor that can limit peak and declining populations of snowshoe hares but the relation of spacing behaviour to food supply and numbers must also be considered.