Snowshoe hare habitat relationships in response to prescribed burn and northern forest management
January 2020 - December 2021
- Pennsylvania Game Commission
In the face of climate change, land development, and the ephemeral nature of early successional habitats, the Pennsylvania Game Commission needs to develop a comprehensive spatial understanding of snowshoe hare habitat relationships to better understand factors affecting snowshoe hare abundance and distribution in Pennsylvania.
The snowshoe hare is classified as a game animal (34 Pa. CSA, § 102) and was listed as a species of maintenance concern on Pennsylvania’s 2005 State Wildlife Action Plan due to sensitivity to habitat alteration, apparent decline, and potential importance of Pennsylvania’s population for gene flow between states to the north and south. Currently, the distribution is thought to be limited to mountainous sections of the northern half of Pennsylvania (Merritt 1987) and in small, isolated populations in higher elevations of southern parts of the state (Boyd 2015) in areas where suitable habitats exist (Diefenbach et al. 2016).
This project is a collaboration with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The findings from this research will help to develop guidelines for habitat managers to consider and implement when managing northern forest habitats, habitats managed with prescribed fire, and for protecting critical habitat features to conserve and expand sustainable snowshoe hare populations.