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Agricultural Habitat Heterogenity Impact on the European Hare (Lepus europaeus) Density in Vojvodina Region (Serbia)

Agricultural Habitat Heterogenity Impact on the European Hare (Lepus europaeus) Density in Vojvodina Region (Serbia)

Igor Ponjiger1, Milutin Kovacevic1*, Vladimir Markovic1, Zoran Ristic1 and Vukan Lavadinovic2

1University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sciences, Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management, Trg Dositeja Obradovića 3, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia
2University of Belgrade, Faculty of Forestry, Kneza Višeslava 1, 11030 Belgrade, Serbia
 
* Corresponding author: milutin.kovacevic@dgt.uns.ac.rs

ABSTRACT

Throughout Europe agriculture intensification during the last decades has dramatically changed the structure of the farmland landscape with an intensive impact on ecosystem stability. Changes in the production led to decreased habitat heterogeneity and to decline in biodiversity, including the European hare (Lepus europaeus), especially in the lowland regions. Even though European hare mostly adapted to intensive agricultural habitats, the population densities have decreased throughout Europe since the 1960s. Previous research reported field size to be one of the most important predictors of the hare population. We aimed to assess the effect of habitat heterogeneity and structure on hare habitat selection i.e. population density. Using hunting organization census data we explored the population density and habitat preference of the European hare in spring 2020 in the hunting ground, Bačka - Bački Petrovac. The average population density of European hare significantly differed between four fractions of the hunting ground - Bački Petrovac, Kulpin, Gložan, and Maglić. Density varied from 27 in Bački Petrovac to 50 individuals per 100 ha in Maglić. The population was negatively affected by mean patch size and by the area under no vegetation during the winter period. Conservation measures should focus on enhancing habitat heterogeneity by reducing field size, and fostering sowing during the late autumn period.

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Pakistan Journal of Zoology

June

Pakistan J. Zool., Vol. 56, Iss. 3, pp. 1001-1500

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