An evaluation of the costs and responses of coat colour mismatch in snowshoe hares

Kennah, Joanie (2022) An evaluation of the costs and responses of coat colour mismatch in snowshoe hares. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (10MB)


Animals that change colour seasonally to match the presence and absence of snow are becoming increasingly mismatched with their environment in many parts of the world. We evaluated the direct and indirect impacts of coat colour mismatch in snowshoe hares in two contrasting geographies, and further investigated the mechanisms that may be driving these impacts. First, we examined the impact of coat colour mismatch on snowshoe hare mortality risk and foraging behaviour in southwestern Yukon. We found that white mismatched hares survived better than their matched counterparts, presumably due to energetic benefits related to winter white coats that allowed hares to spend less time foraging. Next, we experimentally manipulated coat colour mismatch and perceived predation risk in central-eastern Newfoundland. We found that mismatched hares in risky situations experience increased body mass loss, which they may compensate for by altering their forage selection and intake rate. Our results shine light on the mechanisms that govern coat colour mismatch impacts across populations in different geographies, and how animals may compensate for these impacts.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15758
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references
Keywords: lepus americanus, snowshoe hare, coat colour mismatch, accelerometor, foraging behaviour
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: September 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Medical Subject Heading: Snowshoe rabbit--Adaptation--Yukon; Snowshoe rabbit--Adaptation--Newfoundland and Labrador; Animals--Food--Yukon; Animals--Food--Newfoundland and Labrador; Camouflage (Biology)--Yukon; Camouflage (Biology)--Newfoundland and Labrador

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics