Population parameters and reproductive biology of the Iberian hareLepus granatensis in southern Iberia
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To analyse the population structure and reproductive biology of the Iberian hareLepus granatensis Rosenhauer, 1856, 498 hares (264 males and 234 females) were collected in monthly samples from October 1998 to September 1999. Females reached larger sizes than males, with approximately 400 g difference in body mass on reaching sexual maturity. The total sex ratio was 1∶1, with a bias in favour of males in winter. Sexually active males and females appeared in every month but August, when no sexually active female was found. Births occurred in every month and were more frequent between March and July. Seasonal variation in kidney fat index (KFI) followed a similar pattern in males and females, with an increase in mid-autumn and a decline at the end of winter. Reproductive activity appeared in every month, with a maximum from February to June. Reproductively hyperactive females (simultaneously pregnant and nursing) appeared in every month except in January, with a first peak in March and a second lower peak in May–June. Litter size fluctuated between 1 and 7 leverets. The most frequent gestations involved 1 or 2 foetuses. The mean annual litter size was 2.08 and the average number of litters per productive female per year was estimated to be 3.48. The maximum productivity was recorded between March and May. The total annual production of young per adult female was estimated to be 7.21. The minimum annual survival rate of young was 27.91%. On the basis of these results we propose to maintain the limit of the hunting period between October and December. We discuss the relationship between the low young/adult ratio obtained and the hunting method used.
Key wordsLepus granatensis Iberian hare reproduction population structure Iberian Peninsula
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