2014-03-24. Climate change catches snowshoe hares off guard.

posted Mar 25, 2014, 11:52 AM by Alan Gould

For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 2. Excerpt: ...Several mammal species annually swap out their brown drab summer coat for a stylish camouflaged white coat in time for snow season. Over the past few decades, shorter periods of snowpack from warmer temperatures are exposing snowshoe hares to predators when their coats molt out of sync with snow cover. That could be a problem for hare populations, .... The timing of molt remained fixed in autumn even though the timing of snow pack differed between years. ...Even so, coat color was often mismatched and it seemed to make little difference to the hares. ...Patches of bare ground were preferred over snowy spots as resting sites, independent of coat color. The hares’ apparent disregard for conspicuousness is a bit of a mystery. ...A shift from a reliance on camouflage to other adaptive predator avoidance strategies, such as running faster, may also help hares keep pace with climate change.... http://conservationmagazine.org/2014/03/climate-change-catches-snowshoe-hares-guard/. Miles Becker, University of Washington, Conservation.