Vol. 54, 2015
Diet adaptability by a generalist herbivore: the case of brown hare in a Mediterranean agroecosystem
Christos Sokos1,2*, Konstantinos Andreadis1 and Nikolaos Papageorgiou1
of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, School of Forestry and Natural
Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki
GR-54124, Hellas (Greece)
2Research Division, Hunting Federation of Macedonia and Thrace, Ethnikis, Antistasis 173-175, GR-55134 Thessaloniki, Hellas
Background: Brown hares (Lepus europaeus)
were collected before and after autumn rains from a mixed farmland and
scrubland area. The age and sex of each specimen were determined, and
microhistological technique was applied to analyze the stomach contents.
consumed a higher number of plant species in comparison with other
studies in continental European farmlands. A different pattern in diet
of hare was found, where from a partial herbivory, frugivory, and
granivory during the dry period, hares turn to primarily herbivory
during the wet period. An expansion of diet breadth and an increase in
food consumption was found in the dry season. Farming contributes to
the enrichment of diet especially during the dry season. Diet
composition was differed between ages, but no significant difference
was found between the two sexes.
is a facultative generalist herbivore that adapts its diet to the
seasonal vegetation changes. In Mediterranean ecosystems, the seeds,
fruits, and grapes are important additions to the diet. Results suggest
that during the dry period juveniles cannot exploit all the available
food resources, such as fruits and seeds, as effectively as adults.
Key words: Herbivore; Feeding ecology; Dietary breadth; Forage quality; Dietary specialization.
*Correspondence: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org