For my project, I will attempt to understand the potential impact of climate change on predation risk in snowshoe hares, a keystone species in the boreal forest. Hares change their coat colour seasonally to track the presence of snow and avoid detection from predators. I will examine how climate change induced camouflage mismatch in hares increases mortality risk during the spring and fall coat colour change. By examining movement and habitat use between individuals, I will determine if hares display behavioural plasticity that can reduce fitness costs associated with seasonal mismatch. Moreover, using a long-term database of coat-colour in snowshoe hares, I will examine if hares have adapted their timing of colour molts to match the changes in snow cover. This is an important step for estimating future impacts of camouflage mismatch on hare populations. Snowshoe hares are an important prey species for numerous predators and understanding how climate change affects hare abundance is important for the conservation of the boreal forest.
Please check out my website (http://www.michaeljlpeers.com/) for more information on my current and previous research.