Endangered jackrabbit Lepus flavigularis prefers to establish its feeding and resting sites on pasture with cattle presence

Alma Luna-Casanova, Tamara Rioja-Paradela, Laura Scott-Morales, Arturo Carrillo-Reyes


Lepus flavigularis Wagner 1844 (Tehuantepec jackrabbit), a species endemic to southern Oaxaca in Mexico, and is currently considered as the jackrabbit in greatest danger of extinction worldwide. In the locality of Santa María del Mar in Oaxaca, it inhabits open pastures, sharing habitat with domestic cattle (Bos taurus). We hypothesize that L. flavigularis prefers to establish its feeding and resting sites in pastures where cattle are present. Understanding interspecific relationships is of great importance to the establishment of appropriate management plans. We record radio-tagged and no radio-tagged jackrabbits that established their resting and feeding sites on pastures with presence and absence of cattle and a compositional analysis of habitat preference was conducted. This paper reports for the first time the preference of L. flavigularis to establish feeding (ʎ = 0.8010, P = 0.0020) and resting sites (ʎ = 0.6605, P = 0.016) in the pasture with the presence of cattle. Selection of these sites could be attributed to the fact that the presence of cattle can function as an alarm system against possible predators, while the cattle grazing could itself promote palatable species of Poaceae that form part of the diet of this leporid. This information is key to the establishment of future management plans for both species and their ecosystem. A long-term study is required in order to determine the feasibility of cattle and jackrabbit cohabitation. We propose that an efficient rotational grazing program, could contribute to the conservation of this jackrabbit population.

Palabras clave

habitat; grazing; livestock; management; predators; Tehuantepec jackrabbit.

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