A comparison between vegetation and diet records from the wet and dry season in the cottontail rabbit Sylvilagus floridanus at Ixtacuixtla, central Mexico

Robyn Hudson, Luisa Rodríguez-Martínez, Hans Distel, Carlos Cordero, Vilmos Altbäcker, Margarita Martínez-Gómez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mexico has eight endemic lagomorph species, several of which are endangered. For conservation reasons it is necessary to know more about their diet. In a first step we applied the method of fecal pellet analysis to the cottontail Sylvilagus floridanus (Allen, 1890). Since it is common in Mexico, information on its diet should provide a useful baseline with which to compare the diets of other Mexican lagomorphs. At Ixtacuixtla, we recorded vegetation and analyzed fecal pellet content once in August (wet season) and once in March (dry season) at 4 sampling sites representing different habitat types. The comparison of vegetation and diet records suggested S. floridanus to occupy the same dietary niche in the different habitats. Measures of niche breadth showed S. floridanus to be neither a generalist nor a specialist. Nevertheless, it appeared to be quite selective in consuming particular herb and grass species even when they became scarce during the dry season. Since the vegetation record only poorly represented the rabbits' diet, a more focused approach is suggested for future studies: first, to identify the relevant food species in the diet, second, to obtain data on the availability of these, and third, to concentrate on time points when changes in resource state could be a limiting factor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-389
Number of pages13
JournalActa Theriologica
Volume50
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2005

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Keywords

  • Fecal pellet analysis
  • Food selection
  • Niche breadth
  • Plant availability
  • Seasonal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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