We compared pellet, burrow, visual, and camera surveys to identify a method with high efficiency for detecting current pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) presence at a site in summer. We used 20 known occupied sites in 4 regions of northern Nevada and eastern California for the comparison. All leporid species that occurred in the region were distinguishable in photographs, and camera surveys had a 95% detection efficiency for pygmy rabbits. Burrows were detected at 85% of total sites; however, burrows that appeared active were found at only 55% of total sites. Pygmy rabbit pellets were found at all sites, but fresh pellets were observed at only 70% of the sites. Sighting surveys detected pygmy rabbits 30% of the time. Only camera and visual surveys provided conclusive evidence of current presence. Of these methods, camera surveys were more efficient because they allowed for a longer period of detection. We also evaluated the use of road transects to detect and determine relative abundances of rabbit species in an area. Road transects detected pygmy rabbit presence in 6 of 10 transects. Relative abundance among species was biased against pygmy rabbits because of the dense vegetation they prefer to live in, their limited home ranges, and other behavioral characteristics.
Larrucea, Eveline S. and Brussard, Peter F.
"Efficiency of various methods used to detect presence of pygmy rabbits in summer,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 68
, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol68/iss3/4