Polar Biology

, Volume 40, Issue 10, pp 2113–2118 | Cite as

Spatial variation in Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) populations around the Hall Basin

  • Fredrik DalerumEmail author
  • Love Dalén
  • Christina Fröjd
  • Nicolas Lecomte
  • Åsa Lindgren
  • Tomas Meijer
  • Patricia Pecnerova
  • Anders Angerbjörn
Short Note


Arctic environments have relatively simple ecosystems. Yet, we still lack knowledge of the spatio-temporal dynamics of many Arctic organisms and how they are affected by local and regional processes. The Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) is a large lagomorph endemic to high Arctic environments in Canada and Greenland. Current knowledge about this herbivore is scarce and the temporal and spatial dynamics of their populations are poorly understood. Here, we present observations on Arctic hares in two sites on north Greenland (Hall and Washington lands) and one adjacent site on Ellesmere Island (Judge Daly Promontory). We recorded a large range of group sizes from 1 to 135 individuals, as well as a substantial variation in hare densities among the three sites (Hall land: 0 animals/100 km2, Washington land 14.5–186.7 animals/100 km2, Judge Daly Promontory 0.18–2.95 animals/100 km2). However, pellet counts suggested that both Hall land and Judge Daly Promontory hosted larger populations at other times. We suggest that our results could have been caused by three spatially differentiated populations with asynchronous population fluctuations. With food limitation being a likely driver behind the observed variation, we argue that food limitation likely interacts with predation and competition in shaping the spatial dynamics of Arctic hares in this region.


Synchrony Population dynamics Geographic variation Ellesmere Island North Greenland Lagomorpha 



This work was supported by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and National Science Foundation as part of the research program SWEDARCTIC 2016 to the project ‘Arctic Islands’ (2013-7812-106995-50). Further financial support was received from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canada Research Chair Program, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Northern and Arboriginal Affairs, Centre d’Études Nordiques, and the Swedish Research Council. We are thankful for the research and logistical permitting agencies: Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut Water Board, Nunavut Planning Commission, Government of Greenland, and Hunter and Trappers Organization of Grise Fjord.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Unit of Biodiversity (UMIB, UO-CSIC-PA)University of OviedoAsturiasSpain
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Zoology, Mammal Research InstituteUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of Bioinformatics and GeneticsSwedish Museum of Natural HistoryStockholmSweden
  5. 5.Swedish Polar Research SecretariatStockholmSweden
  6. 6.Canada Research Chair in Polar and Boreal Ecology and Centre d’Études Nordiques, Department of BiologyUniversity of MonctonMonctonCanada

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