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Stark warning issued for the Irish hare

Date:
March 29, 2011
Source:
Queen's University Belfast
Summary:
Researchers have issued a stark warning about the future of the Irish hare and the threat it faces from the European 'brown' hare, which has set up home in Mid-Ulster and West Tyrone. Biologists have studied the impact of the invading European hare on the native species.

Researchers at Queen's University Belfast have issued a stark warning about the future of the Irish hare and the threat it faces from the European 'brown' hare, which has set up home in Mid-Ulster and West Tyrone.

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Dr Neil Reid from Quercus (Queen's University's Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science), said: "In March 2011, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted to outlaw hare coursing in Northern Ireland to protect the future of the Irish hare. But our native hare remains vulnerable to another serious threat -- that of the invading European hare."

European hares are found in Britain and continental Europe, but they have been highly successful in invading many countries beyond their native range in south-west Europe and parts of Asia. There have been many studies on their impact on native species. Dr Reid reviewed these studies to get a clearer picture of how much of a threat the invading species might be to the Irish hare.

The study, published in the international journal Biological Invasions, suggested that European hares exhibit strong competition for habitat space and food resources with native species, most notably other hare species. It also warns that disease and parasite transmission and climate change may give the invading European hare an edge over our native species.

Dr Reid added: "The Irish hare represents an evolutionary unique lineage, which is restricted to Ireland where it has been present since before the last glacial maximum, making it one of our few native mammal species. Hence, it has been isolated for 30,000-60,000 years. So the discovery that both species are hybridising in the wild is very worrying."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University Belfast. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University Belfast. "Stark warning issued for the Irish hare." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329095700.htm>.
Queen's University Belfast. (2011, March 29). Stark warning issued for the Irish hare. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329095700.htm
Queen's University Belfast. "Stark warning issued for the Irish hare." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110329095700.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

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