Local climate determines vulnerability to camouflage mismatch in snowshoe hares

Item Metadata

Dublin Core

Title

Local climate determines vulnerability to camouflage mismatch in snowshoe hares

Description

Aim
Phenological mismatches, when life-events become mistimed with optimal environmental conditions, have become increasingly common under climate change. Population-level susceptibility to mismatches depends on how phenology and phenotypic plasticity vary across a species’ distributional range. Here, we quantify the environmental drivers of colour moult phenology, phenotypic plasticity, and the extent of phenological mismatch in seasonal camouflage to assess vulnerability to mismatch in a common North American mammal.

Location
North America.

Time period
2010–2017.

Major taxa studied
Snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus).

Methods
We used > 5,500 by-catch photographs of snowshoe hares from 448 remote camera trap sites at three independent study areas. To quantify moult phenology and phenotypic plasticity, we used multinomial logistic regression models that incorporated geospatial and high-resolution climate data. We estimated occurrence of camouflage mismatch between hares’ coat colour and the presence and absence of snow over 7 years of monitoring.

Results
Spatial and temporal variation in moult phenology depended on local climate conditions more so than on latitude. First, hares in colder, snowier areas moulted earlier in the fall and later in the spring. Next, hares exhibited phenotypic plasticity in moult phenology in response to annual variation in temperature and snow duration, especially in the spring. Finally, the occurrence of camouflage mismatch varied in space and time; white hares on dark, snowless background occurred primarily during low-snow years in regions characterized by shallow, short-lasting snowpack.

Main conclusions
Long-term climate and annual variation in snow and temperature determine coat colour moult phenology in snowshoe hares. In most areas, climate change leads to shorter snow seasons, but the occurrence of camouflage mismatch varies across the species’ range. Our results underscore the population-specific susceptibility to climate change-induced stressors and the necessity to understand this variation to prioritize the populations most vulnerable under global environmental change.

Bibliographic Citation

Zimova, M., A. P. Sirén, J. J. Nowak, A. M. Bryan, J. S. Ivan, T. L. Morelli, S. L. Suhrer, J. Whittington, and L. S. Mills. 2019. Local climate determines vulnerability to camouflage mismatch in snowshoe hares. Global Ecology and Biogeography 29:503–515.  https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.13049

Creator

Zimova, Marketa
Sirén, Alexej P. K.
Nowak, Joshua J.
Bryan, Alexander M.
Ivan, Jacob S.
Morelli, Toni Lyn
Suhrer, Skyler L.
Whittington, Jesse
Mills, L. Scott

Subject

Adaptation
Camouflage mismatch
Climate change
Latitudinal gradient
Phenological mismatch
Phenotypic plasticity
Range edge
Snow
Snowshoe hares

Extent

13 pages

Date Created

2019-12-26

Type

Article

Format

application/pdf

Language

English

Is Part Of

Global Ecology and Biogeography

Collection

Citation

Zimova, Marketa et al., “Local climate determines vulnerability to camouflage mismatch in snowshoe hares,” CPW Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024, https://cpw.cvlcollections.org/items/show/239.