This study examined activity patterns and habitat use of pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) in mechanically treated and untreated areas in south-central Utah 2005-2008. We monitored fecal pellet plots in continuous sagebrush habitat as well as along treatment edges to record deposition and leporid presence over timed periods. Pygmy rabbit use of big sagebrush was higher than black-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus) and mountain cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus nuttallii ) (P< 0.01) relative to treated areas (P <0.01). We also compared pygmy rabbit use of areas with continuous sagebrush to residual sagebrush in a sample of mechanically treated areas. Our results suggest a treatment effect with higher (P <0.01) average counts of pygmy rabbit pellets in areas with continuous sagebrush compared to sagebrush strips and islands within treated areas. Before the big sagebrush biotype inhabited by pygmy rabbits is treated to reduce the occurrence and dominance of big sagebrush, we recommend managers consider two options. The first is no treatment, thus preserving, as is, the critical habitat of the pygmy rabbit and other sympatric big sagebrush obligate species of wildlife. The second option cautiously introduces the first prescription of habitat treatment ever recommended in relationship to the pygmy rabbit. This prescription includes recommended widths of the treated areas, seed mixes, widths of the preserved intact big sagebrush habitat for pygmy rabbits as well as suggested grazing systems for domestic livestock. Activity patterns of pygmy rabbits at their burrow were documented through the use of remote cameras. Photographs were analyzed for temporal and seasonal patterns of activity. Our results suggested that time of day was important in the activity level of pygmy rabbits while season was not. Pygmy rabbits were active during all time periods of the day but the greatest levels of activity occurred at night. Numerous other wildlife species were recorded by our remote cameras including other species of leporids, birds, rodents, reptiles and terrestrial predators.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Lee, Janet E., "Pygmy Rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) Habitat Use, Activity Patterns and Conservation in Relationship to Habitat Treatments" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1754.
Pygmy rabbit, Brachylagus idahoensis, habitat use, activity patterns, conservation, dixie harrow, big sagebrush, remote camera