Populační dynamika zajíce polního (Lepus europaeus) na střední Moravě [Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) population dynamics in central Moravia (Czech Republic)]
Blažena Hladíková, Jiří Zbořil, Emil Tkadlec
During last decades, populations of the brown hare (Lepus europaeus) have declined considerably all over Europe. We analyse the time series of annual bags in 9 hunting areas around the city of Olomouc between 1964 and 2002 using the statistical modelling approach. We revealed a downward trend in all of the 9 areas, the populations declining on average 5.8% every year. Linear trends were not related to the proportion of forest in the area or increasing trends in the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) bags. Applying autoregressive modelling, we demonstrated that large-scale winter climatic variability, as measured by the winter NAO index, was a good predictor of hare population growth rates. The autumn catches of hares were larger after mild winters with less snow typical of positive values of the NAO index. The results obtained are consistent with a view that the downward trends are caused by the growing populations of predators, foxes in particular, whereas the between-year fl uctuations around the trend are induced by direct winter climatic effects. Any successful management aimed at reversing the observed trends should include steps to lowering mortality rates, such as hunting ban or reduction of predator populations.