Abstract: This study was focused on the diet and feeding behaviour of Lepus corsicanus in two protected coastal areas of Latium, Castelporziano Presidential Estate (CPE) and Circeo National Park (CNP). Plant frequency was assessed by the quadrat method, while diet composition was determined by microhistological analysis of faecal samples. Over the year, the Italian hare fed on 185 of the 229 plant species identified in vegetation, with most of them ingested in low percentages (1%). During the dry season (DS), in both areas, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Cynodon dactylon, and Avena fatua were among the most consumed species. In the wet season (WS) the most common plant species in diet were B. sylvaticum, Poa trivialis, and Carex distachya in CPE and Dactylis glomerata, Cynosurus echinatus, and Spartium junceum in CNP. In both sites, considering the annual selection of life forms, grasses and leguminous forbs were preferred, while non-leguminous forbs and shrubs were used less than expected according to their availability. ANOSIM analysis showed significant differences between sites in DS and WS diets. Our study evidenced that the Italian hare behaved as generalist, revealing its capability for exploiting several plant species and to adapt its diet preferences to space-time variation of food availability.

Diet Selection by the Italian Hare (Lepus corsicanus de Winton,1898) in Two Protected Coastal Areas of Latium

Pierangelo Freschi
;
Simonetta Fascetti;Gabriella Rizzardini;Rosanna Paolino;Carlo Cosentino
2022

Abstract

Abstract: This study was focused on the diet and feeding behaviour of Lepus corsicanus in two protected coastal areas of Latium, Castelporziano Presidential Estate (CPE) and Circeo National Park (CNP). Plant frequency was assessed by the quadrat method, while diet composition was determined by microhistological analysis of faecal samples. Over the year, the Italian hare fed on 185 of the 229 plant species identified in vegetation, with most of them ingested in low percentages (1%). During the dry season (DS), in both areas, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Cynodon dactylon, and Avena fatua were among the most consumed species. In the wet season (WS) the most common plant species in diet were B. sylvaticum, Poa trivialis, and Carex distachya in CPE and Dactylis glomerata, Cynosurus echinatus, and Spartium junceum in CNP. In both sites, considering the annual selection of life forms, grasses and leguminous forbs were preferred, while non-leguminous forbs and shrubs were used less than expected according to their availability. ANOSIM analysis showed significant differences between sites in DS and WS diets. Our study evidenced that the Italian hare behaved as generalist, revealing its capability for exploiting several plant species and to adapt its diet preferences to space-time variation of food availability.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11563/154346
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