Lepus coreanusKorean hare

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Geographic Range

The geographic range of Lepus coreanus, also known as the Korean hare, includes the entire Korean Peninsula as well as southern Jilin Province and northeastern parts of China. (Smith and Xie, 2008)

Habitat

Korean hares occupy various habitats across their geographic distribution, from plains to mountains, preferring areas where vegetation is abundant. A study conducted in Mt. Chirisan National Park, South Korea indicated that L. coreanus abundance was positively associated with the percent of shrub cover in a given landscape. Korean hares can live in a variety of areas, including cultivated lands, plains, scrublands, and forest areas. (Flux and Angermann, 1990; Lee and Rhim, 2012; Smith and Xie, 2008; Smith, A.T. and Johnston, C.H., 2008)

  • Average elevation
    500 m
    1640.42 ft

Physical Description

Fur color in Korean hares varies, but is generally a brownish shade. The dorsal parts of the body are usually brown or grayish brown, and the ventral area is paler or white. An adult Korean hare weighs 2.1 to 2.6 kg, and has a body length of 45 to 54 cm. The tail is short, typically 2 to 5 cm in length with a black stripe located on the upper side in the middle, and the ears are 7.6 to 8.3 cm long. They have long ears and well-furred feet to aid in their ability to travel fast and cover vast areas in a short time period. Korean hares are born fully furred and with their eyes opened. They have very big eyes which allow for greater visual acuity in dim light. Male hares are slightly smaller than female hares. (Flux and Angermann, 1990; Nowak, 1999)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range mass
    1350 to 7000 g
    47.58 to 246.70 oz
  • Range length
    400 to 700 mm
    15.75 to 27.56 in

Reproduction

There is little known about mating in Korean hares, but there are many commonalities to mating within hares. Hares use scent cues secreted from special glands located under the chin and in the groin. These scent cues are believed to play a key role in sexual communication, as well as in signaling social status. Male Korean hares become bolder during the mating season, engaging in fights with other males and pursuing females. They fight by using boxing motions with their forefeet and kicking with their hind feet. (Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999)

Korean hares have a long breeding season, which peaks in spring. Up to a dozen males congregate around a female in estrus, boxing each other and chasing off other rivals. The gestation period for most Lepus species is 42 days and the average litter size increases seasonally to a peak then declines; there are normally 3 to 5 litters per year. The annual production of young per female is about 10. (Flux and Angermann, 1990; Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999; Flux and Angermann, 1990; Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding interval length in Korean hares is not reported.
  • Breeding season
    The majority of hare species have a long breeding season.
  • Range number of offspring
    6 to 8
  • Range gestation period
    38 (low) days
  • Average gestation period
    42 days
  • Average weaning age
    3 days
  • Range time to independence
    17 to 23 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1 years

Little is known about parental investment in Korean hares. However, male hares are not generally involved in caring for young. Maternal investment is also limited in hares. They engage in a reproductive strategy known as "absentee parenting." Nursing takes place once or twice a day, usually at night, and only lasts for just a few minutes. It is thought that the lack of social contact between the mother and her young is a strategy which diminishes the chances of attracting the attention of predators. (Macdonald, 2001)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The majority of Korean hares die within the first year of life in the wild because they are subject to high predation rates. In captivity, they have been reported to live to the age of 5. (Macdonald, 2001)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    5 (high) years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 years

Behavior

Little information on the behavior of this species has been reported. They typically travel in open habitats to feed during late afternoon or evening. They are not thought to be social and there is no indication of territorial behavior, but hierarchies do exist which affects access to food. Shrubs, bushes, and rocks are used as cover to protect these hares from predators. Korean hares occupy different habitats in regions where they overlap geographically with other hares and rabbits. The ranges of hare species are not static; one species can compete with another and exclude it from its former habitat if ecological conditions change. (Flux and Angermann, 1990; Smith, A.T. and Johnston, C.H., 2008)

Home Range

Home range size of Korean hares is not reported in the literature.

Communication and Perception

Details of communication among Korean hares have not been reported. In general, hares communicate with each other by drumming their feet and through scent cues. Female hares make a shrieking sound to call to the young for feeding times. (Flux and Angermann, 1990)

Food Habits

Korean hares are likely entirely herbivorous, similar to other hares. They eat many types of grasses and shrubs and will chew bark from trees. (Flux and Angermann, 1990)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • flowers

Predation

Korean hares use speed and agility to avoid becoming prey to predators. They also camouflage themselves by flattening out among vegetation. Gray wolves and red foxes are known predators of Korean hares. Other possible predators are large raptors and snakes. They are also well-known game animals and trapped by villagers for food. (Flux and Angermann, 1990; Macdonald, 2001; Nowak, 1999)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Korean hares act as both important prey items for many species and, as herbivores, act to control plant growth and disperse seeds and nutrients. Hares can be most selective in eating grass seed-heads, but whether this curtails or increases the spread of these grasses will depend on the relative number of seeds digested and passed through the animal. In hilly country, these herbivores eat at the bottom of the valley floors and defecate while traveling back and forth from their daylight habitat several hundred meters uphill. Thus hares actively reverse the normal downhill flow of nutrients in an ecosystem. (Flux and Angermann, 1990; Nowak, 1999)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Korean hares are trapped by villagers for food and fur. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Korean hares are considered "pests" in agricultural regions because they may forage on crops. They are thought to pose a problem to barley growing near the mountains in Kyeonsnam Province and sometimes girdle fruit trees. (Flux and Angermann, 1990; Nowak, 1999)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

There are no known conservation measures in place for this species. It is not known if this species is present in any protected areas. In China, this species has been regionally Red Listed as Least Concern. (Smith and Xie, 2008; Smith, A.T. and Johnston, C.H., 2008)

Other Comments

Korean hares are an example of Bergmann's Rule - where larger species within a genus occur at higher latitudes. Hare species in the far north weigh around 5 kg, most species in temperate regions average 3 kg, and species occurring near the equator are 2 kg or less. However, even within this genus there are exceptions to this rule. (Flux and Angermann, 1990)

Contributors

Stacy Faigle (author), University of Wyoming, Hayley Lanier (editor), University of Wyoming - Casper, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Palearctic

living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

induced ovulation

ovulation is stimulated by the act of copulation (does not occur spontaneously)

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

nomadic

generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

saltatorial

specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

2008. "Lepus coreanus" (On-line). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed October 30, 2013 at http://eol.org/pages/122373/details.

Alves, P., N. Ferrand, K. Hackländer. 2008. Lagomorph Biology: Evolution, Ecology, and Conservation. New York: 2008.

Corbet, G., J. Hill. 1992. The Mammals of the Indomalayan Region: A Systematic Review. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Flux, J., R. Angermann. 1990. Rabbits, Hares and Pikas Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. Gland, Switzerland: ICUN. Accessed October 30, 2013 at http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/000ADOBES/Lagomorphs/B605_IUCN_RabbitsHaresPikas.pdf.

Gonzalez, J. 2013. "The Republic of Korea" (On-line). Prezi. Accessed November 11, 2013 at prezi.com/arqjjrhsdb6i/the-republic-of-korea/.

Kim, S., J. An, S. Choi, Y. Lee, H. Park, J. Kimura, K. Kim, M. Min, H. Lee. 2012. Development and characterization of nine microsatelite loci from the Korean hare (Lepus coreanus) and genetic diversity in South Korea. Animal Cells and Systems, 16/3: 230-236.

Lee, E., S. Rhim. 2012. Differences in mammal abundance of post-fire silvicultural management stands within the South Korean pine forest. Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, Vol. 11/Issue 18: 3350-3354. Accessed November 09, 2013 at http://medwelljournals.com/abstract/?doi=javaa.2012.3350.3354.

Macdonald, D. 2001. Rabbits and Hares. Pp. 696-701 in D MacDonald, ed. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals, Vol. B285, w5b Edition. England: Oxford University Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World Sixth Edition. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA. Accessed October 30, 2013 at wildpro.twycrosszoo.org.

Pintus, K., N. Fox, J. Belle, D. Bourne. 2006. Rabbits and their relatives: health & management. Pp. ? in K Pintus, N Fox, J Belle, eds. Rabbits and their relatives: health & management, Vol. WildPro, W15 Edition. web: Wild Life Information Network. Accessed November 04, 2013 at http://wildpro.twycrosszoo.org/list_vols/lagomorphs/Contents_Lagomorphs.htm.

Smith, A.T., , Johnston, C.H.. 2008. "Lepus corneaus" (On-line). ICUN Red List. Accessed October 30, 2013 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41279/0.

Smith, A., Y. Xie. 2008. A Guide to the Mammals of China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Won, C., K. Smith. 1999. History and current status of mammals of the Korean Peninsula. Mammal Review, 29/1: 3-33.

Yoon, S., C. Park, W. Nah, M. Gye. 2009. Expression of occludin in testis and epididymis of wild rabbits, Lepus sinensis coreanus. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 44/5: 745-750. Accessed November 13, 2013 at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.libproxy.uwyo.edu/advanced/search/results.