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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Population trends of brown hares in Switzerland: the role of land-use and ecological compensation areas

Published source details

Zellweger-Fischer J., Kéry M. & Pasinelli G. (2011) Population trends of brown hares in Switzerland: the role of land-use and ecological compensation areas. Biological Conservation, 144, 1364-1373


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Plant new or maintain existing hedgerows on farmland Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, site comparison study, in 1992–2008, on 58 lowland arable and grassland sites in Switzerland (Zellweger-Fischer et al. 2011) found that maintenance of hedgerows (with adjacent herbaceous strips) on farmland was associated with higher brown hare Lepus europaeus density in arable sites but not in grassland sites. Relative effects of hedgerows and herbaceous strips could not be separated. Hare density along hedgerows and adjacent herbaceous strips was higher than in the landscape as a whole in predominantly arable sites but there was no difference in densities in predominantly grassland sites (data presented as statistical models). Fifty-eight sites (40 mostly arable, 18 mostly grassland), of 71–1,950 ha extent (total area approximately 400 km2) were studied. Forty-three sites included areas managed under agri-environment funding. This entailed maintaining hedgerows (unfertilized and unsprayed, with 6-m wide herbaceous strips), establishing set-aside areas and low-intensity management of meadows. Hedgerows and herbaceous strips covered 0.17% of arable sites and 0.13% of grassland sites. Vehicle-based spotlight surveys for hares were conducted twice in February–March. Ten sites were surveyed annually from 1992 to 2008 and 48 were, on average, surveyed biennially over that period.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Provide or retain set-aside areas on farmland Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, site comparison study in 1992–2008 on 58 lowland arable and grassland sites in Switzerland (Zellweger-Fischer et al. 2011) found that set-aside areas on farmland were not associated with higher brown hares Lepus europaeus densities. Set-aside areas were not associated with hare density in either predominantly arable or predominantly grassland areas (data presented as statistical models). Fifty-eight sites (40 mostly arable, 18 mostly grassland), of 71–1,950 ha extent (total area approximately 400 km2) were studied. Forty-three sites included areas managed under agri-environment funding. This entailed establishing set-aside areas (not mown or fertilized, usually sown with wildflower seeds and retained for 2–6 years), maintaining hedgerows (with adjacent herbaceous strips) and low intensity management of meadows. Set-aside covered 3.0% of arable sites and 4.6% of grassland sites. Vehicle-based spotlight surveys for hares were conducted twice in February–March. Ten sites were surveyed annually in 1992–2008 and 48 were, on average, surveyed biennially over that period.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)

Create uncultivated margins around intensive arable or pasture fields Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A replicated, site comparison study in 1992–2008 on 58 lowland arable and grassland sites in Switzerland (Zellweger-Fischer et al. 2011) found that establishing uncultivated field margins, in the form of herbaceous strips alongside hedgerows, was associated with higher brown hares Lepus europaeus density in arable sites but not in grassland sites. Relative effects of herbaceous strips and hedgerows could not be separated. Hares density along herbaceous strips and adjacent hedgerows was higher than in the landscape as a whole in predominantly arable sites but there was no difference in densities in predominantly grassland sites (data presented as statistical models). Fifty-eight sites (40 mostly arable, 18 mostly grassland), of 71–1,950 ha extent (total area approximately 400 km2) were studied. Forty-three sites included areas managed under agri-environment funding. This entailed establishing 6-m-wide unfertilised herbaceous strips, cut once/year, alongside hedgerows, establishing set-aside areas and low-intensity management of meadows. Herbaceous strips and hedgerows covered 0.17% of arable sites and 0.13% of grassland sites. Vehicle-based spotlight surveys for hares were conducted twice in February–March. Ten sites were surveyed annually from 1992 to 2008 and 48 were, on average, surveyed biennially over that period.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)