Lepus granatensisGranada hare

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Geographic Range

Iberian hares (Lepus granatensis) are found on the Iberian Peninsula, which is located in southwest Europe and includes Andorra, Portugal and Spain. This region is commonly referred to as simply Iberia. Iberian hares are common throughout the peninsula, except in the far northeast, where their range meets that of brown hares. Iberian hares are also absent from some pockets in the Cantabrian Mountains, which are dominated by broom hares. Together, brown hares and Iberian hares are western Europe’s most common hares and are important game species. In northeast Spain, the range of Iberian hares joins the range of brown hares. Iberian hares tend to be more prevalent in their own range than in the transition zone between the two ranges. The Iberian Peninsula was highly affected by glaciation during the Pleistocene, causing species to fragment. Iberian hares are no exception, this is believed to be what caused the species to diversify from others in the region. The range of Iberian hares may have expanded during warm periods, causing the ranges of mountain hares and others to shrink. (Alves, et al., 2000; Alves, et al., 2002; Gortazar, et al., 2007; Melo-Ferreira, et al., 2005)

Habitat

Iberian hares are most common in the northern Iberian Mountains. Much of this area has a less extreme climate than other parts of the peninsula, such as the Ebro Depression and the southern Iberian Mountains, suggesting that Iberian hares prefer moderate climates. The species tends to prefer the agricultural ecosystems common to this region. Though Iberian hares can be found in the southern Iberian Mountains and Ebro Depression, abundances in these areas are not as high, possibly due to the extremely low rainfall, harsh winters and lack of agricultural ecosystems. Iberian hares may occupy a variety of landscape types within their range including forests, shrublands and grasslands. (Gortazar, et al., 2007; Smith and Johnston, 2008a)

Physical Description

Iberian hares are similar in appearance to hares found in North America and Europe. Like other hares, Iberian hares are notable for their disproportionately long ears, which are about 100 mm in length. Their coat is generally different shades of brown, brownish-red or gray, while their ventral side is white. As with other hare species, both males and females are about the same size, with total lengths of about 600 to 750 mm. These hares do not exhibit any notable sexual dimorphism. Their face and snout are short and wide. (Bansfield, 1974; Hall and Kelson, 1959)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range length
    600 to 750 mm
    23.62 to 29.53 in

Reproduction

No information could be found specifically regarding the mating systems of Iberian hare. Most leporids exhibit polygynandrous sexual behavior, meaning both males and females copulate with multiple partners. (Feldhamer, et al., 2003)

Courtship and mating occur during the spring season; hares leap in the air and perform twists during the courting process. This is one of the few times individuals interact with conspecifics. Their newborns, known as “leverets”, are born with full pelage and open eyes. There are generally less than five leverets per litter; however, a single female may produce up to seven litters per year. Unlike rabbits, they do not dig full burrows but create a shallow depression in the ground called a “form”, in which to give birth. ("Hare", 1994; "Hare", 2004; Van Den Brink, 1968)

  • Breeding interval
    Iberian hares breed multiple times during the mating season.
  • Breeding season
    Their mating occurs during the spring.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 5

There is currently no information available regarding the parental investment of Iberian hares.

Lifespan/Longevity

Like most hares, the life expectancy of Iberian hares is low. The closely-related and overlapping species, European hares, have a life expectancy of just 1.04 years. Information pertaining specifically to Iberian hares is not available, but they are likely similar to European hares. (Smith and Johnston, 2008b)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1.04 years

Behavior

Iberian hares make forms in the ground for resting and raising young. These forms are made by scratching a depression into the soil. Hares lie in the form with their lumbar region facing outward, forms become larger with increased use. Forms are usually found in sheltered areas, such as under brush and logs. This species is nocturnal, however, activity periods can vary and Iberian hares are commonly seen during daylight hours. They are solitary animals, except when mating and raising young. (Van Den Brink, 1968)

Home Range

No information is available regarding the home range size of Iberian hares.

Communication and Perception

Like other hares of the world, Iberian hares are mostly quiet under normal conditions. However, when in extreme distress, hares may emit a high-pitched screech or scream-like call. Hares also sometimes stomp the ground violently with their hind legs in order to warn others of danger. ("Hare", 2004)

Food Habits

Like all hare species, Iberian hares are herbivores, feeding on plant material. They are commonly found in agricultural regions where they feed on crops and in vineyards. In forested areas, hares feed on buds, twigs and bark, especially in winter. (Bansfield, 1974; Van Den Brink, 1968)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • flowers

Predation

Little is written on predation of Iberian hares, but predators of other hare species worldwide are likely similar. Common hare predators include dogs such as coyotes, foxes and wolves, as well as wild and domestic felines. Predatory birds such as hawks and eagles are also a threat. (Bansfield, 1974)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

The intestinal coccidian, Taenia pisiformis cysticercus, has been found using Iberian hares as hosts. These parasites may decrease hares' survivability when attempting to escape predators. (Alzaga, et al., 2008)

Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • Taenia pisiformis cysticercus

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Iberian hares are a very common and important game species in Europe. (Alves, et al., 2002)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Iberian hares tend to frequent agricultural habitats and may cause some crop damage, especially where their populations are high. (Gortazar, et al., 2007)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Iberian hares are listed as a “Least Concern” species by IUCN Redlist; however the species is believed to be extinct on the island of Mallorca and around Galacia and Asturias, although their numbers have been trending upward in many other areas. (Smith and Johnston, 2008b)

Contributors

Derek Weaver (author), Northern Michigan University, John Bruggink (editor), Northern Michigan University, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

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

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.

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.

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.

holarctic

a distribution that more or less circles the Arctic, so occurring in both the Nearctic and Palearctic biogeographic regions.

World Map

Found in northern North America and northern Europe or Asia.

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

polygynandrous

the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

saltatorial

specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

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

suburban

living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.

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.

References

1994. Hare. Pp. 48-49 in Academic American Encyclopedia, Vol. 10, Deluxe Library Edition. Danbury, CT: Grolier Incorporated.

2004. Hare. Pp. 60 in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, 2005 Edition. Chicago: World Book Incorporated.

Alves, P., H. Goncalves, M. Santos, A. Rocha. 2002. Reproductive biology of the Iberian hare, Lepus granatensis, in Portugal. Mammalian Biology, Volume 67, Issue 6: 358-371.

Alves, P., M. Branco, O. Matias, N. Ferrand. 2000. New Genetic Variation in European Hares, Lepus granatensis and L. europaeus. Biochemical Genetics, Volume 38, Issue 3-4: 87-96.

Alzaga, V., J. Vicente, D. Villanua, P. Acevedo, F. Casas, C. Gortazar. 2008. Body condition and parasite intensity correlates with escape capacity in Iberian hares (Lepus granatensis). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Volume 62, Issue 5: 769-775.

Bansfield, A. 1974. Mammals of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Feldhamer, G., B. Thompson, J. Chapman. 2003. Wild Mammals of North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Gortazar, C., J. Millan, P. Acevedo, M. Escudero, J. Marco, D. Fernandez de Luco. 2007. A Large-scale Survey of Brown Hare Lepus Europaeus and Iberian Hare L. Granatensis Populations at the Limit of Their Ranges. Wildlife Biology, Volume 13, Issue 3: 244-250.

Hall, E., K. Kelson. 1959. Mammals of North America. New York: Ronald Press Company.

Melo-Ferreira, J., P. Boursot, F. Suchentrunk, N. Ferrand, P. Alves. 2005. Invasion from the cold past: extensive introgression of mountain hare (Lepus timidus) mitochondrial DNA into three other hare species in northern Iberia. Molecular Ecology, Volume 14, Issue 8: 2459-2464.

Smith, A., C. Johnston. 2008. "Lepus europaeus" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed April 05, 2013 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/full/41280/0.

Smith, A., C. Johnston. 2008. "Lepus granatensis" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed February 14, 2013 at http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/classify/41306/0.

Van Den Brink, F. 1968. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Britain and Europe. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.