Pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) are a small sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) obligate lagomorph found within the Great Basin of northwestern United States. Because of its reliance on sagebrush, this species is thought to be experiencing a major range reduction as a result of loss of sagebrush habitat. To aid in conservation of this species, we need to better understand its use of the sagebrush environment. We estimated summer home range use patterns by relocating 5 radio-collared pygmy rabbits (3 females and 2 males) over a 24-hour cycle. We then compared soil texture, shrub density, height, and canopy cover between areas close to burrow entrances and areas of high use and low use. Mean home range sizes of female and male rabbits were 37.2 and 67.9 ha, respectively. Rabbits had disproportionate amounts of time (68.4% ± 9.1, sx̄) and travel (63.0% ± 5.7, sx̄) in areas within a 60-m radius of their burrows. Soil texture did not differ among the 3 areas, but shrub density, specifically big sagebrush, and forb density were significantly higher close to the burrow than in the high- and low-use areas. We conclude that pygmy rabbits are possibly burrow obligates and that their abundance and distribution are likely limited by available burrow sites.
Heady, Laura T. and Laundré, John W.
"Habitat use patterns within the home range of pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) in southeastern Idaho,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 65
, Article 7.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol65/iss4/7