Finally, we investigated, for the first time in any mammal species, whether hares modify their anti-predatory behaviors (hiding, fleeing, or micro-site selection) in a manner that reduces camouflage mismatch. We found that hares do not hide more in vegetation or do not increase the distance at which they flee from predators when color mismatched against their background. Additionally, hares do not select their hiding spots with background color that matches their coat color. Conversely, they prefer spots with relatively little snow which in turn increases camouflage mismatch.
Based on those findings, we concluded that the current levels in phenotypic plasticity are insufficient to facilitate adaptation to camouflage mismatch and any future adaptation to climate change will require natural selection on the molt timing or on hare behavior.
– by Marketa Zimova