The food habits of the endangered Italian hare have not received adequate attention from researchers. In
this study, the diet composition of this species and its seasonal variation were assessed by analysing faecal pellets in a semi-natural landscape in the south of Italy. The results showed that hares feed on 62 species of plants during the year, with a conspicuous presence of herbaceous ones (e.g., Trifolium pratense, Brachypodium sylvaticum , Festuca arundinacea) as these occurred at high frequencies in most of the faecal samples. In spring, diet composition was characterised by a high percentage of Graminaceae ( > 37%). In the other seasons, hares also included fruits (e.g., Prunus spinosa , Pyrus piraster , Malus sylvestris ), which, in autumn, accounted for > 27%. There were significant differences among seasons (p < 0.001) in terms of Margalef ’ s richness, Shannon diversity, and Buzas and Gibson ’ s evenness. The smallest values of richness and diversity were observed in spring. Dietary overlap was low between spring and the other seasons; conversely, there was substantial overlap ( > 70%) in the diets during the other seasons with a more
pronounced similarity between summer and autumn (S ø rensen, C s = 0.80; Morisita-Horn, C MH = 0.73).
Keywords: diet; faecal analysis; Lepus corsicanus ; microhistological identification.
Pierangelo Freschi , Simonetta Fascetti , Mauro Musto , Egidio Mallia , Carlo Cosentino and Rosanna Paolino (2014). Diet of the Italian hare ( Lepus corsicanus ) in a semi-natural landscape of southern Italy. Mammalia 2014; aop; DOI 10.1515/mammalia-2013-0117.