Lepus arcticus - Ross, 1819
Arctic Hare
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Lepus arcticus Ross, 1819 (TSN 552511)
French Common Names: lièvre arctique
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103262
Element Code: AMAEB03030
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Other Mammals
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Lagomorpha Leporidae Lepus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Lepus arcticus
Taxonomic Comments: Lepus arcticus and L. othus formerly were included in L. timidus. Jones et al. (1992) and Hoffman and Smith (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) treated L. timidus, L. arcticus, and L. othus as separate species. Angermann (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) regarded L. timidus, L. arcticus , and L. othus as probably conspecific (in which case the specific name timidus has priority). Some evidence based on cranial variation suggests that only Lepus arcticus and L. timidus should be recognized (Baker et al. 1983). Halanych et al. (1999) found minimal genetic diferences between L. arcticus and L. othus, and they questioned the validity of L. othus as a distinct species. However, Halanych et al. (1999) noted the need for further taxonomic study of the arctic hare group. Pending further study, the North American mammal checklist by Baker et al. (2003) retained L. othus as a valid species. MtDNA data presented by Waltari et al. (2004) are consistent with recognition of L. arcticus, L. othus, and L. timidus as different species.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 07Dec1999
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (01Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Canada Labrador (S4S5), Manitoba (S5), Newfoundland Island (S2S3), Northwest Territories (S5), Nova Scotia (SNA), Nunavut (S5), Quebec (S5)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Canada mainly north of treeline, north to the northernmost end of Ellesmere Island, south to Hudson Bay and Newfoundland; common on most of the ice-free coastal region of Greenland; may range several kilometers from land on coastal ice; sea level to 900 m (Best and Henry 1994, Waltari et al. 2004).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Canada mainly north of treeline, north to the northernmost end of Ellesmere Island, south to Hudson Bay and Newfoundland; common on most of the ice-free coastal region of Greenland; may range several kilometers from land on coastal ice; sea level to 900 m (Best and Henry 1994, Waltari et al. 2004).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
Canada LB, MB, NF, NSexotic, NT, NU, QC

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: Sechrest, 2002

Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: Gestation lasts about 53 days. Young are born mainly in late May-early June in Newfoundland, usually in late June farther north. Litter size 2-8, averages 2.5-4.5 in different years in Newfoundland, 6.5 farther north; one litter/year in Newfoundland, possibly two or more litters annually in some places (Hearn et al. 1987, Best and Henry 1994). Young are weaned at 8-9 weeks., begin breeding at 1 year.
Ecology Comments: Usually solitary but not uncommonly gregarious, primarily during nonbreeding season; may occur in groups of 10-60, or up to thousands on Arctic islands in Canada. In many areas, populations fluctuate widely over periods of several years. Average of 1 adult/sq km in Long Range Mountains, Newfoundland; 15-50/sq km on islands off Newfoundland's south coast (Small et al. 1991).

Summer range of females was half that of males (116-155 ha) in Newfoundland (Hearn et al. 1987). Mean home range size was reported by Small et al. (1991) as 290 ha in Newfoundland, 9-49 ha on adjacent islands.

Apparently lacks a rigid social-dominance system; environmental factors such as food resources, snow conditions, and presence of predators may be primary influences on dispersion (Small et al. 1991).

In Newfoundland, annual survivorship was 78% for adults, 15% for first-year juveniles (Hearn et al. 1987).

At high densities, may be an important competitor of muskoxen and caribou during winter when all three species feed on willows; however, the muskoxen and caribou generally do have alternate food sources (graminoids).

Predators include various arctic Carnivora and raptors.

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Possibly makes seasonal north-south migrations in some areas, though this has not been adequately documented. May move upslope for winter, downslope for summer.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Tundra
Habitat Comments: Tundra and rocky slopes, hills and lower mountain slopes; generally avoids low, flat country lacking sheltered situations; most common where vegetation is not deeply and extensively snow-covered. In winter, may penetrate into northern border of wooded terrain. Can swim freely across small streams, though tends to avoid marshy areas. Takes shelter in depressions, especially on leeward side of rocks. May burrow into snow during storms. Young are born in a nest among mosses and grasses in a simple depression in tundra, or under or among rocks or similar sheltered places; sometimes on offshore islands.
Adult Food Habits: Herbivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Eats twigs and roots of willows and birch, buds and berries of EMPETRUM, foliage of various other plants, mosses, and lichens. May dig through snow crust to reach food.
Length: 68 centimeters
Weight: 6800 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Provides a source of food, clothing, and other useful items for native peoples, and comprises a potentially valuable recreational resource (see Best and Henry 1994).
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Jackrabbits and Hares

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Separation Barriers: Major water bodies; arbitrarily set at those wider than 500 meters at low water.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: For most species, unsuitable habitat includes dense forested vegetation and large water bodies that do not freeze.

For Lepus americanus, unsuitable habitat iincludes dense forest with no understory vegetation, open grassland and tundra, water bodies.

Jackrabbits and hares are highly mobile and warrant large separation distances for suitable habitat. Dispersal not uncommonly extends several kilometers and sometimes tens of kilometers. For example, in Idaho, L. californicus moved up to 45 km in a 17-week period (French et al. 1965). Snowshoe hares may move up to 8 kilometers occur when food is scarce (Banfield 1974). However, the extreme distances are too large to be used as a basis for establishing occurrence separation distances (the resulting occurrences often would be unreasonably large for conservation purposes). Separation distance for suitable habitat therefore is a compromise between the likely low probability that two occupied areas separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent truly independent populations and the need for occurrences of reasonable size.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .6 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a modest home range size of 30 hectares (see Separation Justification).
Date: 19Oct2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Sep1994
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des mammifères du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 5 pages.

  • Baker, A. J., et al. 1983. Geographic variation and taxonomy of Arctic hares. Acta Zoologica Fennica 174:45-48.

  • Baker, R. J., L. C. Bradley, R. D. Bradley, J. W. Dragoo, M. D. Engstrom, R. S. Hoffman, C. A. Jones, F. Reid, D. W. Rice, and C. Jones. 2003a. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2003. Museum of Texas Tech University Occasional Papers 229:1-23.

  • Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada. 438 pp.

  • Banfield, A.W.F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

  • Best, T. L., and T. H. Henry. 1993a. Lepus alleni. American Society of Mammalogists, Mammalian Species 424:1-8.

  • Best, T. L., and T. H. Henry. 1994. Lepus arcticus. Am. Soc. Mamm., Mammalian Species No. 457:1-9.

  • Bradley, R.D., L.K. Ammerman, R.J. Baker, L.C. Bradley, J.A. Cook. R.C. Dowler, C. Jones, D.J. Schmidly, F.B. Stangl Jr., R.A. Van den Bussche and B. Würsig. 2014. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2014. Museum of Texas Tech University Occasional Papers 327:1-28. Available at: http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/publications/opapers/ops/OP327.pdf

  • Burt, W. H., and R. P. Grossenheider. 1976. A field guide to the mammals. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 289 pp.

  • Donoho, H.S. 1971. Dispersion and dispersal of white-tailed and black-tailed jackrabbits, Pawnee National Grasslands. US/IBP Grassland Biome Technical Report No. 96, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

  • French, N. R., R. McBride, and J. Detmer. 1965. Fertility and population density of the black-tailed jackrabbit. Journal of Wildlife Management 29:14-26.

  • Government of the Northwest Territories (NWT). 2000. NWT Species 2000 - General Status Ranks of Wild Species in the Northwest Territories. Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, GNWT, Yellowknife, NT. Available online: http://www.nwtwildlife.rwed.gov.nt.ca/monitor (June 2001). Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, GNWT, Yellowknife, NT.

  • Halanych, K. M., J. R. Demboski, B. J. van Vuuren, D. R. Klein, and J. A. Cook. 1999. Cytochrome b phylogeny of North American hares and jackrobbits (Lepus, Lagomorpha) and the effects of saturation in outgroup taxa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 11:213-221.

  • Hearn, B. J., L. B. Keith, and O. J. Rongstad. 1987. Demography and ecology of the arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) in southwestern Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Zoology 65:852-861.

  • Hebda, A.J. 2011. List of mammals of Nova Scotia (including synonyms used in the literature relating to Nova Scotia) (revision 2) 24 July 2011. Nova Scotia Museum Collections Unit, Halifax, Nova Scotia. 24 pp. Online. Available: https://naturalhistory.novascotia.ca/sites/default/files/inline/images/names_and_synonyms_ver3.pdf

  • Jones, J. K., Jr., R. S. Hoffman, D. W. Rice, C. Jones, R. J. Baker, and M. D. Engstrom. 1992a. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, The Museum, Texas Tech University, 146:1-23.

  • Lechleitner, R. R. 1958. Movements, density, and mortality in a black-tailed jackrabbit population. Journal of Wildlife Management 22:371-384.

  • Parks Canada. 2000. Vertebrate Species Database. Ecosystems Branch, 25 Eddy St., Hull, PQ, K1A 0M5.

  • Small, R. J., L. B. Keith, and R. M. Barta. 1991. Dispersion of introduced arctic hares (LEPUS ARCTICUS) on islands off Newfoundland's south coast. Can. J. Zool. 69:2618-2623.

  • Smith, G. W. 1990. Home range and activity patterns of black-tailed jackrabbits. Great Basin Naturalist 50:249-256.

  • Tiemeier, O. W. 1965. The black-tailed jackrabbit in Kansas. Kansas State University Agriculture Experimental Station, Manhattan. Contrib. No. 336. 75pp.

  • Waltari, E., J. R. Demboski, D. R. Klein, and J. A. Cook. 2004. A molecular perspective on the historical biogeography of the northern high latitudes. Journal of Mammalogy 85:591-600.

  • Whitaker, J. O., Jr. 1980. The Audubon Society field guide to North American mammals. Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 745 pp.

  • Wildlife Management Information System (WMIS). 2006+. Geo-referenced wildlife datasets (1900 to present) from all projects conducted by Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, Canada.  Available at http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/programs/wildlife-research/wildlife-management-information-services

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.

  • Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Two volumes. 2,142 pp. Available online at: https://www.departments.bucknell.edu/biology/resources/msw3/

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