Using radio-telemetry we investigated natal dispersal, adult home ranges and site fidelity of mountain hares Lepus timidus in northern Sweden. We captured 48 leverets from 20 litters while these were still suckling and radio-tracked them for up to 37 months. Leverets showed limited dispersal; < ⅓moved far enough to leave the home range of an average adult female. We radio-collared and tracked 73 adult hares to determine annual and seasonal home ranges along with site fidelity. Males had significantly larger annual and winter-spring home ranges than did females. Both sexes, and especially males, had significantly larger home ranges during winter-spring than during summer-autumn. Adults showed strong site fidelity. None of the adults dispersed from an established home range even though some long-distance excursions were recorded, especially for the males during the breeding season in spring. Limited natal dispersal and a high degree of adult site fidelity suggest that dispersal of mountain hares, as juveniles or as adults, occurs at a low rate in the boreal forest during prevailing conditions, i.e. during low densities and in a continuous population. We conclude that the mountain hare seems to be a philopatric species compared with other small game species in the same ecosystem.
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