Acta Theriologica

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 363–370 | Cite as

The importance of past and present landscape for Japanese hares Lepus brachyurus along a rural-urban gradient

  • Masayuki Saito
  • Fumito Koike


This study evaluated the effects of landscape on the distribution of Japanese hares Lepus brachyurus Temminck, 1845 hares along a rural-urban gradient. We surveyed the presence of hares in 62 forest patches in the Tama Hills, which spreads from forested mountains to the urban core, and found signs of hares in 23 patches. We evaluated the effects of habitat patch size, connectivity, and land cover of the surrounding area (forest, residential and few agricultural area) by logistic regression. To select the most appropriate spatial scale and time period, we conducted a variable selection for all combinations of buffer size (250-, 500-, 1000- and 2000-m radius), and year (1974, 1984 and 1994). We calculated Akaike weight for the best model to measure the importance of each variable. The model for the best combination of buffer size and year was 500 m in 1994. We conclude that recent landscape determines the occurrence of hares. Forest patch size and percentage of forest cover were important variables in the best model. To protect the wild hare population in suburban areas, it is important to conserve areas of forest that have at least 500 m radius. These areas must be continuously maintained, as hares respond rapidly to changes in landscape.

Key words

forest size habitat mid-sized mammal spatial scale urbanization urban planning 


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Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environment and Information SciencesYokohama National UniversityYokohamaJapan

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