Martijn Weterings uses telemetry to understand how heterogeneity of the landscape affects responses to predation risk in the European hare in the Netherlands.
Intensified human interaction with its surrounding landscape since the 1900’s lead to a decrease in landscape heterogeneity, resulting in a long-term decreasing trend in Brown hare population numbers. The decrease in landscape heterogeneity not only affected the immediate environment of the brown hare, it also improved the accessibility for, and impact of predators on hare populations, influencing predator avoidance and prey-predator encounters. The interaction between landscape heterogeneity and risk effects on Brown hare ecology needs thorough investigation.
A conceptual outline of this thesis can be viewed below.
European Brown Hare ecology as a resultant of landscape quality: effects of habitat heterogeneity, diet quality and predation risk effects.Movement and activity patterns of brown hare in landscapes of varying heterogeneity (with low predator density) (chapter 2) are investigated using a correlative study with GPS collars. The effects of landscape heterogeneity and anti-predator avoidance behavior on the movement and activity patterns of the brown hare (chapter 3) are also studied using GPS collars, but in an experimental setup. Chapter 4 focusses on the fleeing behavior as a reaction to an encounter with a predator in landscapes of different heterogeneity, for which hares will be flushed and flight initiation distance will be studied. The effects of anti-predatory behavior and heterogeneity on the nutritional and energetic budget of the brown hare (chapter 5) are investigated by an overlay of movement patterns with the spatial distribution of nutritional and energy in that area, and by investigating body characteristics and former condition of dead hares.