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Lepus othus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Leporidae

Scientific Name: Lepus othus
Species Authority: Merriam, 1900
Common Name(s):
English Alaskan Hare
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomic status of the Alaskan Hare remains unclear, with some authorities suggesting, based on cranial or other morphometric measurements, that they are conspecific with L. arcticus and/or L. timidus. L. othus and L. arcticus also are known to share similar behavioral and ecological characteristics, yet, L. othus is geographically isolated and possesses different skull and incisor morphology from L. arcticus, and thus may warrant distinct taxonomic status.

Hall (1981) recognizes L. othus othus and L. o. poadromus as valid subspecies. Mammal Species of the World recognizes L. o. othus and L. o. tschuktschorum, listing poadromus as a nominate form synonym (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). Currently, there are insufficient data on eastern Siberian populations of hares to determine if they are linked to L. othus or to L. timidus (Hoffmann and Smith 2005). A recent molecular phylogenetic study of Arctic Hares suggests that the Chukotkan population of hares is more closely related to L. timidus, but more studies are required for conclusive distinction (Waltari et al. 2004). Should it be shown that linkage is to L. othus, "then tschuktschorum Nordquist, 1883 has priority over othus Merriam, 1900" (Hoffmann and Smith 2005).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Murray, D. & Smith, A.T.
Reviewer(s): Johnston, C.H. and Smith, A.T. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Populations seem to be healthy, overall, although there seems to be little monitoring occurring at the moment.
Previously published Red List assessments:
  • 1996 – Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • 1994 – Insufficiently Known (K)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The geographic range of L. othus consists of west and southwest Alaska (Flux and Angermann 1990). It occupies elevations from sea level to approximately 660 m (Flux and Angermann 1990). Previously, distribution included the Chukotkan region of Russia; however, molecular phylogeny suggests that this population of hare is more closely allied with L. timidus (Waltari et al. 2004). The Alaskan hare has not been studied extensively, probably because of its restricted and isolated distribution along the Arctic tundra region of western Alaska. The distribution is almost entirely north of treeline, including the North Slope of Alaska, although verifiable records of this range extension are lacking.
Countries occurrence:
United States (Alaska, Aleutian Is.)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):660
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Population is more or less continuous and is thought to be stable and healthy. Populations may undergo cyclic fluctuations. However, little/no monitoring of populations is ongoing.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:L. othus normally occupies open tundra (Flux and Angermann 1990). Diet is likely to be the same as that of other arctic hares: dwarf willow, grasses, sedges and heath plants.

The total length is 56.5-69.0 cm (Hall and Kelson 1959). L. othus produces one litter per year (Best and Henry 1994). It averages 6.3 young per litter (Anderson and Lent 1977). Gestation length is approximately 46 days (Anderson and Lent 1977).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is modestly used for food, and to a small extent the fur is used by natives. 5% of the population is utilized.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Southern populations may be subject to habitat loss, perhaps climate change as well, although this is highly speculative.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Research is needed to determine the taxonomic status of this species in relation to L. arcticus and L. timidus. Research should also be conducted in the areas of habitat and population status, harvest levels, and trends. There are no known conservation measures in place at this time.

Citation: Murray, D. & Smith, A.T. 2008. Lepus othus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T11795A3308465. . Downloaded on 01 July 2016.
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