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The relationship between vegetation succession and cattle grazing with the occurrence of Hares on the salt marsh

Drost, A. (2000) The relationship between vegetation succession and cattle grazing with the occurrence of Hares on the salt marsh. Bachelor's Thesis, Biology.

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Abstract

In this study the density of Brown Hares (Lepus europaeus) was compared on salt marsh of different ages on Schiermonnikoog. The question was if Hares are evicted by vegetation succession as well as geese are. The differences in Hare density was tried to be explained by differences in vegetation composition and canopy height. To obtain a measure of the Hare density, droppings were counted on all transects. Vegetation relevées were taken and the canopy height was measured to describe the transects. The Hare density was most influenced by the amount of Elymus athericus and Festuca rubra on the salt marsh. A clear relation between canopy height and Hare densities could not be found. Dropping analysis were performed to establish the diet of the Hares on the different transects. Festuca rubra appeared to be the most favoured food plant on all transects with on average 75% of the diet. On the old salt marsh the fraction of Festuca rubra was lowest. In these parts the Hares are forced to eat more Elymus athericus which is of poor quality. The Hare density showed a peak at the salt marsh of intermediate age. On these transects the fraction of Festuca rubra in the vegetation was high and there were some parts with a higher vegetation where the Hares could find shelter. On these transects the fraction of Festuca rubra in the diet was the highest. After this peak on the intermediate successional stage the numbers dropped. Another factor studied was the effect of cattle grazing. Cows seem to facilitate for Hares by reducing the canopy height and making the favoured food plants of the Hares accessible again. In the cattle grazed parts the numbers of Hares were higher as on the ungrazed parts of the same age. It seems Hares are evicted by vegetation succession as well as geese are.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's Thesis)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Bachelor's Thesis
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 07:45
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 07:45
URI: http://fse.studenttheses.ub.rug.nl/id/eprint/9516

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