During 1998–2001 we studied population dynamics of the mountain hare Lepus timidus in three areas of Finland which were in different phases of the hare population cycle and in different geographical locations. The aim of our study was to examine the survival and reproductive rates of hare populations under different circumstances. Hare numbers were monitored using the wildlife monitoring data. Hare samples were collected by hunters in southern Finland (prolonged hare population low), central Finland (increasing hare population) and northern Finland (declining hare population). The survival rates of both adult and young hares were lowest in northern Finland. Litter size did not differ between the populations, but the proportion of breeding females and consequently, productivity of the hare population was highest in central Finland and lowest in southern Finland. The possible effects of especially the phase of the hare population cycle, condition and size of female hares, predator abundance and weather/climatic factors on the population dynamics of hares are discussed.
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