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WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Lepus californicus


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Lepus californicus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Howard, Janet L. 1995. Lepus californicus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : LECA COMMON NAMES : black-tailed jackrabbit TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of black-tailed jackrabbit is Lepus californicus Gray (Leporidae) [13,15,23,24,42]. Seventeen subspecies are recognized: Lepus californicus altamirae Nelson [13,42] Lepus californicus asellus Miller [13,42] Lepus californicus bennettii Gray* [42] Lepus californicus californicus Gray* [13,24,42] Lepus californicus curti Hall [42] Lepus californicus deserticola Mearns* [13,24,42] Lepus californicus ememicus J. A. Allen* [24,42] Lepus californicus festinus Nelson [13,42] Lepus californicus magdalenae Nelson [13,42] Lepus californicus martirensis Stowell [42] Lepus californicus melanotis Mearns* [13,24,42] Lepus californicus merriamai Mearns* [13,42] Lepus californicus richardsonii Bachman* [13,24,42] Lepus californicus sheldoni Burt [13,42] Lepus californicus texianus Waterhouse* [13,24,42] Lepus californicus wallawalla Merriam* [13,24,42] Lepus californicus xanti Thomas [13,42] *occurs north of Mexico [24] Flux [31] noted that the number of black-tailed jackrabbit subspecies recognized may be excessive. Using cluster analysis of anatomical characters, Dixon and others [23] found that black-tailed jackrabbit subspecies separated into two distinct groups that are geographically separated west and east of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River. They suggested only two infrataxa are warranted: the western subspecies Lepus californicus californicus and the eastern subspecies Lepus californicus texianus. Black-tailed jackrabbit and white-tailed jackrabbit (L. townsendii) produce hybrid offspring in Utah [31]. ORDER : Lagomorpha CLASS : Mammal FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : None OTHER STATUS : Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in the United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although recent changes in status may not be included.


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Lepus californicus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Black-tailed jackrabbit is the most widely distributed jackrabbit (Lepus spp.) in North America [13]. Native black-tailed jackrabbit populations occur from central Washington east to Missouri and south to Baja California Sur and Zacatecas [24]. Black-tailed jackrabbit distribution is currently expanding eastward in the Great Plains at the expense of white-tailed jackrabbit [31]. Black-tailed jackrabbit has been successfully introduced in southern Florida and along the coastline in Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia [13,24]. Distribution of subspecies occurring entirely or partially in the United States is as follows [42]: Lepus californicus bennettii - coastal southern California to Baja California Norte Lepus californicus californicus - coastal Oregon to coastal and Central Valley California Lepus californicus deserticola - southern Idaho to Sonora Lepus californicus eremicus - central Arizona to Sonora Lepus californicus melanotis - South Dakota to Iowa, Missouri, and central Texas Lepus californicus merriami - south-central and southeastern Texas to Tamaulipas Lepus californicus richardsonii - central California Lepus californicus texianus - southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado to Zacatecas Lepus californicus wallawalla - eastern Washington to northeastern California and northwestern Nevada ECOSYSTEMS : FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES22 Western white pine FRES23 Fir-spruce FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce FRES26 Lodgepole pine FRES27 Redwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon-juniper FRES36 Mountain grasslands FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES40 Desert grasslands FRES41 Wet grasslands FRES42 Annual grasslands STATES :
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K001 Spruce-cedar-hemlock forest K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest K003 Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest K004 Fir-hemlock forest K005 Mixed conifer forest K006 Redwood forest K007 Red fir forest K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest K009 Pine-cypress forest K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest K019 Arizona pine forest K022 Great Basin pine forest K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland K024 Juniper steppe woodland K025 Alder-ash forest K026 Oregon oakwoods K027 Mesquite bosque K028 Mosaic of K002 and K026 K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K031 Oak-juniper woodlands K032 Transition between K031 and K037 K033 Chaparral K034 Montane chaparral K035 Coastal sagebrush K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub K038 Great Basin sagebrush K039 Blackbrush K040 Saltbush-greasewood K041 Creosotebush K042 Creosotebush-bursage K043 Paloverde-cactus shrub K044 Creosotebush-tarbush K045 Ceniza shrub K047 Fescue-oatgrass K048 California steppe K050 Fescue-wheatgrass K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass K053 Grama-galleta steppe K054 Grama-tobosa prairie K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe K057 Galleta-three-awn shrubsteppe K058 Grama-tobosa shrubsteppe K059 Trans-Pecos shrub savanna K060 Mesquite savanna K061 Mesquite-acacia savanna K062 Mesquite-live oak savanna K063 Foothills prairie K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass K065 Grama-buffalograss K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalograss K069 Bluestem-grama prairie K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie K071 Shinnery K074 Bluestem prairie K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie K076 Blackland prairie K077 Bluestem-sacahuista prairie K081 Oak savanna K083 Cedar glades K085 Mesquite-buffalograss K086 Juniper-oak savanna K087 Mesquite-oak savanna K088 Fayette prairie SAF COVER TYPES : 66 Ashe juniper-redberry (Pinchot) juniper 67 Mohrs (shin) oak 68 Mesquite 205 Mountain hemlock 207 Red fir 209 Bristlecone pine 210 Interior Douglas-fir 211 White fir 217 Aspen 218 Lodgepole pine 219 Limber pine 220 Rocky Mountain juniper 221 Red alder 222 Black cottonwood-willow 223 Sitka spruce 224 Western hemlock 225 Western hemlock-Sitka spruce 226 Coastal true fir-hemlock 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock 231 Port-Orford-cedar 232 Redwood 233 Oregon white oak 234 Douglas-fir-tanoak-Pacific madrone 235 Cottonwood-willow 237 Interior ponderosa pine 238 Western juniper 239 Pinyon-juniper 240 Arizona cypress 241 Western live oak 242 Mesquite 243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer 244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir 245 Pacific ponderosa pine 246 California black oak 247 Jeffrey pine 248 Knobcone pine 249 Canyon live oak 250 Blue oak-foothills pine 255 California coast live oak 256 California mixed subalpine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : 101 Bluebunch wheatgrass 102 Idaho fescue 103 Green fescue 104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 106 Bluegrass scabland 107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass 109 Ponderosa pine shrubland 110 Ponderosa pine-grassland 201 Blue oak woodland 202 Coast live oak woodland 203 Riparian woodland 204 North coastal shrub 205 Coastal sage shrub 206 Chamise chaparral 207 Scrub oak mixed chaparral 208 Ceanothus mixed chaparral 209 Montane shrubland 210 Bitterbrush 211 Creosotebush scrub 212 Blackbush 214 Coastal prairie 215 Valley grassland 301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama 303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass 304 Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass 305 Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass 306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass 307 Idaho fescue-threadleaf sedge 309 Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass 310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama 312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue 314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue 316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue 317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue 320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue 322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass 323 Shrubby cinquefoil-rough fescue 324 Threetip sagebrush-Idaho fescue 401 Basin big sagebrush 402 Mountain big sagebrush 403 Wyoming big sagebrush 404 Threetip sagebrush 405 Black sagebrush 406 Low sagebrush 407 Stiff sagebrush 408 Other sagebrush types 409 Tall forb 411 Aspen woodland 412 Juniper-pinyon woodland 413 Gambel oak 414 Salt desert shrub 415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany 416 True mountain-mahogany 417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany 419 Bittercherry 420 Snowbrush 421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose 422 Riparian 501 Saltbush-greasewood 502 Grama-galleta 503 Arizona chaparral 504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland 505 Grama-tobosa shrub 506 Creosotebush-bursage 507 Palo verde-cactus 508 Creosotebush-tarbush 509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association 601 Bluestem prairie 602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed 603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass 604 Bluestem-grama prairie 605 Sandsage prairie 606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass 607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass 608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass 609 Wheatgrass-grama 610 Wheatgrass 611 Blue grama-buffalograss 612 Sagebrush-grass 613 Fescue grassland 614 Crested wheatgrass 615 Wheatgrass-saltgrass-grama 701 Alkali sacaton-tobosagrass 702 Black grama-alkali sacaton 703 Black grama-sideoats grama 704 Blue grama-western wheatgrass 705 Blue grama-galleta 706 Blue grama-sideoats grama 707 Blue grama-sideoats grama-black grama 708 Bluestem-dropseed 709 Bluestem-grama 710 Bluestem prairie 711 Bluestem-sacahuista prairie 712 Galleta-alkali sacaton 713 Grama-muhly-threeawn 714 Grama-bluestem 715 Grama-buffalograss 716 Grama-feathergrass 717 Little bluestem-Indiangrass-Texas wintergrass 718 Mesquite-grama 719 Mesquite-liveoak-seacoast bluestem 720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes) 721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains) 722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie 724 Sideoats grama-New Mexico feathergrass-winterfat 725 Vine mesquite-alkali sacaton 728 Mesquite-granjeno-acacia 727 Mesquite-buffalograss 729 Mesquite 730 Sand shinnery oak 733 Juniper-oak 734 Mesquite-oak 735 Sideoats grama-sumac-juniper 802 Missouri prairie 803 Missouri glades PLANT COMMUNITIES : The black-tailed jackrabbit occupies plant communities with a mixture of shrubs, grasses, and forbs. Shrubland-herb mosaics are preferred over pure stands of shrubs or herbs [19]. Black-tailed jackrabbit is common in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) [55,60], creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) [21,57], and other desert shrublands [22,29,37]; palouse, shortgrass, and mixed-grass prairies; desert grassland [9,29,62]; open-canopy chaparral [1,4,80]; oak (Quercus spp.) [3,43] and pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) [16,24] woodlands; and early seral, low- to mid-elevation coniferous forests [39,80]. It is also common in and near croplands, especially alfalfa (Medicago sativa) fields [24].


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Lepus californicus
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : Breeding: Male black-tailed jackrabbit reach sexual maturity at about 7 months of age [54]. Females usually breed in the spring of their second year, although females born in spring or early summer may breed in their first year. Ovulation is induced by copulation [24]. The breeding season is variable depending upon latitude and environmental factors. In the northern part of its range in Idaho, black-tailed jackrabbit breeds from February through May [32]. In Utah, Gross and others [40] reported breeding from January through July, with over 75 percent of females pregnant by April. The Kansas breeding season extends from January to August [68]. Breeding in warm climates continues nearly year-round. Two peak breeding seasons corresponding to rainfall patterns and vegetation greenup occur in California [54], Arizona [81], and New Mexico [20]. In Arizona, for example, breeding peaks during winter (January-March) rains and again during June monsoons [81]. Gestation and Nesting: The gestation period ranges from 41 to 47 days [40,44]. More litters are born in warm climates: Number of litters born each year ranged from two per year in Idaho [30] to seven in Arizona [81]. Litter sizes are largest in the northern portions of black-tailed jabbit's range, however, and decrease with latitude. Average litter size has been reported at 4.9 in Idaho [30], 3.8 in Utah [40], and 2.2 in Arizona [81]. Female black-tailed jackrabbit do not prepare an elaborate nest. They give birth in shallow excavations called forms that are no more than a few centimeters deep. Females may line forms with hair prior to parturition, but some drop litters in existing depressions on the ground with no further preparation [67,68]. Young are borne fully furred with eyes open, and are mobile within minutes of birth [24,90]. Females do not protect or even stay with the young except during nursing [65]. Ages of weaning and dispersal are unclear since the young are well camouflaged and rarely observed in the field. Captive black-tailed jackrabbit are fully weaned by 8 weeks [81]. The young apparently stay together for at least a week after leaving the form [24,65]. PREFERRED HABITAT : The black-tailed jackrabbit is a habitat generalist. It can occupy a wide range of habitats as long as there is diversity in plant species and structure. It requires mixed grasses, forbs, and shrubs for food, and shrubs or small trees for cover [48,55,60,36]. It prefers moderately open areas without dense understory growth and is seldom found in closed-canopy habitats. For example, Bell and Stadinski [4] reported that in California, black-tailed jackrabbit was plentiful in open chamise (Ademostoma fasciculatum)-Ceanothus spp. chaparral interspersed with grasses, but did not occupy closed-canopy chaparral. Similarly, black-tailed jackrabbit occupies clearcuts and early seral coniferous forest, but not closed-canopy coniferous forest [8,39,80]. Black-tailed jackrabbit does not migrate or hibernate during winter [24,39]; therefore, the same habitat is used year-round. There is diurnal movement of 2 to 10 miles (3-16 km) from shrub cover in day to open foraging areas at night [24]. Home range area varies with habitat and habitat quality [39]. Home ranges of 0.4 to 1.2 square miles (1-3 sq km) have been reported in big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and black greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus) communities of northern Utah [65]. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Black-tailed jackrabbit require shrubs or small conifers for hiding, nesting, and thermal cover, and grassy areas for night feeding [24,48]. A shrub-grassland mosaic or widely spaced shrubs interspersed with herbs provides hiding cover while providing feeding opportunities. Small shrubs do not provide adequate cover [18,19,48]. On the Snake River Birds of Prey Study Area of southwestern Idaho, black-tailed jackrabbit was more frequent on sites dominated by big sagebrush or black greasewood than on sites dominated by the smaller shrubs winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata) or shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia). Black-tailed jackrabbit does not habitually use a burrow [60], although it has occassionally been observed using abandoned burrows for escape [81] and thermal [24,65] cover. FOOD HABITS : The black-tailed jackrabbit diet is composed of shrubs, small trees, grasses, and forbs. Throughout the course of a year, black-tailed jackrabbit feed on most if not all of the important plant species in a community [2]. Growth stage and moisture content of plants may influence selection more than species [46]. Shrubs generally comprise the bulk of fall and winter diets, while grasses and forbs are used in spring and early summer. This pattern varies with climate: Herbaceous plants are grazed during greenup periods while the plants are in prereproductive to early reproductive stages, and shrubs are utilized more in dry seasons [2,29,59,82]. Shrubs are browsed throughout the year, however. Most of a jackrabbit's (Lepus spp.) body water is replaced by foraging water-rich vegetation [81,85]. Jackrabbit require a plant's water weight to be at least five times its dry weight in order to meet daily water intake requirements. Therefore, black-tailed jackrabbit switch to phreatophyte shrubs when herbaceous vegetation cures [38,85]. Plant species used by black-tailed jackrabbit are well documented for desert regions. Forage use in other regions is less well known; however, it is well established that black-tailed jackrabbit browse Douglas-fir (Psedotsuga menzeisii), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), lodgepole pine (P. contorta), and western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) seedlings, and oak (Quercus spp.) seedlings and sprouts [22,39,43]. Great Basin: Big sagebrush is a primary forage species and is used throughout the year; in southern Idaho it formed 16 to 21 percent of the black-tailed jackrabbit summer diet. Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus spp.), spiny hopsage (Gray spinosa), and black greasewood are also browsed [2,28]. Four-wing saltbush (Atriplex canescens) is heavily used in western Nevada [89]. In Butte County, Idaho, winterfat comprised 41 percent of black-tailed jackrabbits' annual diet. Fourteen percent was composed of grasses, with most grass consumption in March and April [36]. Russian-thistle (Salsola kali) is an important forb diet item. Needle-and-thread grass (Stipa comata) and Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides) are preferred grasses [2]. Other preferred native grasses include Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda) and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) [56]. Where available, crested wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum and A. cristatum) and barley (Horeum vulgare) are highly preferred. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) use is variable: It comprised 45 percent of the April diet on two southern Idaho sites [28], but black-tailed jackrabbit on an eastern Washington site did not use it [11]. Warm Desert: Mesquite (Prosopis spp.) [29] and creosotebush (Larrea tridentata) [57,81] are principle browse species. Broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) and Yucca spp. [49] are also used. In honey mesquite (P. glandulosa var. glandulosa) communities in New Mexico, overall black-tailed jackrabbit diet was 47 percent shrubs, 22 percent grasses, and 31 percent forbs [18]. Black grama, dropseed (Sporobolus spp), fluffgrass (Erioneuron pulchellum), and threeawns (Aristida spp.) are the most commonly grazed grasses [18,29,82]. Leather croton (Croton pottsii), silverleaf nightshade (Solanum alaeagnifolium), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), wooly paperflower (Psilostrophe tagetina), and globemallow (Sphaeralcea spp.) are important forbs, although many forb species are grazed [82]. Opuntia spp., saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), and other cacti are used throughout the year but are especially important in dry seasons as a source of moisture [70]. PREDATORS : Black-tailed jackrabbit is an important prey species for many raptors and carnivorous mammals. Nydegger and Smith [60] rated black-tailed jackrabbit and Townsend's ground squirrel (Spermophilus townsendii) as the two most important prey species on the Snake River Birds of Prey Study Area. Hawks preying on black-tailed jackrabbit include the ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) [5,45,47,85], white-tailed hawk (B. albicaudatus) [66], Swainson's hawk (B. swainsoni), and red-tailed hawk (B. jamaicensis) [47]. Janes [47] reported black-tailed jackrabbit as the primary prey of Swainson's, red-tailed, and ferruginous hawks on Idaho and Utah sites. Other raptors consuming black-tailed jackrabbit include the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), and bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) [37,90]. Nydegger and Smith [60] reported a significant correlation between golden eagle production and black-tailed jackrabbit productivity on the Snake River Birds of Prey Study Area. In Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, black-tailed jackrabbit constituted 9 percent of nesting bald eagle's diet [51]. Jackrabbits (Lepus spp.) and cottontails (Sylvilagus spp.) combined formed 9 percent of the diet of bald eagles wintering on National Forests in Arizona and New Mexico [41]. Mammalian predators include coyote (Canis latrans), domestic dog (C. familiaris), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), common gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), American badger (Taxidea taxus), mountain lion (Felis concolor), housecat (F. catus), and bobcat (Lynx rufus) [24,39,68]. In many areas, black-tailed jackrabbit is the primary item in coyote diets [1,325,45]. It is locally and regionally important to other mammalian predators. One study [35] found that jackrabbits (Lepus spp.) made up 45 percent of the bobcat diet in Utah and Nevada. Another Utah-Nevada study [61] found that jackrabbits were the fourth most commonly consumed prey of mountain lion. Rattlesnakes (Crotalus spp.) and garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) prey on black-tailed jackrabbit young [54,81]. Raccoon (Procyon lotor) and striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis) may also capture young [81]. Humans hunt black-tailed jackrabbit for food and hunt, trap, or poison it as a pest species [24]. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Black-tailed jackrabbit populations undergo periodic peaks and lows every 3 to 10 years [18,19,24]. Northern Utah populations, for example, reached a peak density of 71.4 black-tailed jackrabbits/sq km in 1970, declined to a low of 47.1 black-tailed jackrabbits/sq km in 1972 (Stoddart in [85]), and peaked to approximate 1970 levels in 1979 [88]. Large populations can overgraze ranges and depradate croplands and conifer plantations [8,13,24,39,81]. Black-tailed jackrabbit control methods are reviewed in several publications [26,39,50]. Range: When populations are between peaks, black-tailed jackrabbit presence may complement livestock grazing. Daniel and others [18,19] reported that at moderate stocking rates and average black-tailed jackrabbit numbers, there was little competition for forage between cattle and black-tailed jackrabbit on a Chihuahua Desert creosotebush-honey mesquite rangeland. The black-tailed jackrabbit browsed shrubs such as creosotebush that the cattle found unpalatable. In addition, the black-tailed jackrabbit consumed native poisonous plants such as locoweed (Astragulus spp.), desert marigold, and wooly paperflower, thereby reducing poisonous plant cover. Thirty-six percent of their total diet was composed of plants poisonous to cattle. Daniel and others [18] also found that black-tailed jackrabbit densities were significantly (p<0.10) higher on rangeland in fair condition than on good condition rangelands. They suggested that maintaining rangelands in good to excellent condition may be the best way to control black-tailed jackrabbit populations. Black-tailed jackrabbit populations in some areas of the Great Basin have been declining for 20 to 25 years. There has been an attendant population decline of some raptor species including ferruginous hawk [85] and golden eagle [60]. See HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS for further details. Black-tailed jackrabbit browse saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima). It is apparently the only vertebrate herbivore in the United States to do so [83]. Seeds of several plant species are dispersed in black-tailed jackrabbit feces including dropseeds (Sporobolus spp.) [19] and prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) [69]. Timber: In coniferous forests, management practices that reduce edge also reduce black-tailed jackrabbit populations. Roads, skid trails, and patchy canopy cover have been found to increase populations [39]. Lagomorphs can reduce conifer seedling survival. Lagomorph damage to young conifers can be confirmed by examining injured trees. Because they clip trees at an angle with sharp incisors, lagomorphs leave smooth, oblique cuts on branchs and twigs. Lacking sharp incisors, deer (Odocoileus spp.) and elk (Cervus elaphus) leave jagged tears. Clean branch cuts and fecal pellets, which jackrabbits and rabbits often drop at feeding sites, signal lagomorph damage [39]. Human Health: The black-tailed jackrabbit is a reservoir for several diseases transmittable to humans including tularemia, bubonic plague, and Lyme disease [24,53,81].


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Lepus californicus
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Most black-tailed jackrabbit probably escape fire easily, even when young. A few individuals are probably killed. Eye-witness accounts are rare, but one observer [14] of a late August wildfire in chaparral-blue oak (Quercus douglasii) woodland in California reported seeing black-tailed jackrabbit running away from a fast-moving fire, although a few individuals moved toward the flames. An August precribed fire in big sagebrush in Idaho resulted in asphyxiation of several radio-collared pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) in areas where the fire was extensive and advanced rapidly; most pygmy rabbit escaped the fire. Black-tailed jackrabbit were in the area but were not radio collared. Like the pygmy rabbit, most black-tailed jackrabbit probably avoided injury but a few may have been asphyxiated [36]. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Patchy fire in big sagebrush and other shrub types can benefit black-tailed jackrabbit by increasing grass and forb production adjacent to shrub cover. In Idaho black-tailed jackrabbit density was significantly (p<0.01) higher in big sagebrush plots prescribed burned than on unburned plots in two of four counts. Density was similar on burned and control plots on the other two counts. Reducing shrub cover over large areas, however, can increase mortality from predation due to cover removal [36]. Patchy fire in coniferous forest types probably also benefits black-tailed jackrabbit by reducing the overstory and encouraging growth of herbs, shrubs, and small conifers. Great Basin: Fire frequencies on some big sagebrush habitats of the Great Basin have increased from historical ranges of 30 to 70 years to an average of 5.5 years [10,86,87]. Cheatgrass, an exotic that forms dense stands and dries out earlier than native grasses, has been implicated in changing the fire regime. Big sagebrush has declined with frequent fire [10]. Loss of big sagebrush forage and cover has caused a steady decline in black-tailed jackrabbit populations in affected areas [60,84,85]. Some raptor populations are declining as well [60,85]. Wicklow-Howard [84] recommended revegetating these areas with big sagebrush after fire to increase black-tailed jackrabbit and raptor populations. FIRE USE : Jackrabbits (Lepus spp.) moved onto a burn in Arizona desert shrubsteppe immediately after a November precribed fire. Jackrabbits foraged in the burn through winter and into spring [58]. California chaparral: Closed-canopy chamise chaparral in Lake County was prescribed burned in May to enhance wildlife habitat. Treatment was creating small (5-10 acre [2-4 ha]) openings in the dense shrubs and seeding the burned areas with annual and perennial herbs. Prefire density of black-tailed jackrabbit was approximately 1 jackrabbit/sq mile; density at postfire year 1 was approximately 5 to 10 jackrabbits/sq mile. Burn use was heaviest in summer. Black-tailed jackrabbit grazed the seeded-in perennials heavily. Most of the annuals were grazed only lightly; however, cultivated rye (Secale cereale) was preferred. Soft chess (Bromus hordeaceus) foliage was not grazed, but black-tailed jackrabbit ate the ripe seeds [7]. Fifty percent removal of the canopy by prescribed fire in chamise-ceanothus chaparral on the Cleveland National Forest attracted black-tailed jackrabbit to the burned areas. They did not use unburned areas with closed canopies [4]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Lepus californicus
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