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|Title:||Agricultural Land Use and the Eastern Cottontail in Illinois|
|Author(s):||Mankin, Philip Curtis|
|Doctoral Committee Chair(s):||Warner, Richard E.|
|Department / Program:||Animal Science|
|Degree Granting Institution:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
Agriculture, Forestry and Wildlife
|Abstract:||The objectives of this study were to (1) identify key environmental factors associated with the abundance of the eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) in Illinois and (2) determine the movements, home range, and habitat selection of cottontails in an intensively farmed region of Illinois. The county level index for cottontail abundance was related to 13 agricultural land use variables for 1956-69 and 1982-89, using logistic regression and CART (classification and regression trees) models.
The average county rabbit index in Illinois decreased 40.8% from the early to the recent period. Between the two periods, all but one of the 102 Illinois counties decreased in rabbit abundance. The amounts of wheat, oats, and pasture were found to be good predictor variables of rabbit abundance index for both periods. Whereas the change in abundance between periods was correlated with hay, wheat and pasture (all positively) and soybeans (negatively).
Additionally, cottontails were studied on a 2,300-ha area of intensively farmed row crops in Ford County, Illinois during 1990-92. Twenty-six radio-collared cottontails were used to determine seasonal movements and habitat selection. Males and females had an average home range of 33 ha and 9 ha, respectively. The home ranges for both sexes were 2.5 times larger in the crop growing season (June-October) than during the post-harvest season (November-May). Home ranges showed considerable overlap between rabbits and most ranges encompassed a farmstead.
Radiotracking indicated that the cottontails moved frequently between corn, soybeans, and farmsteads regardless of the time of day or season. During the growing season, the most commonly used cover types were corn, soybeans, and farmsteads, respectively. Females made greater use of farmsteads than did males during both seasons, and there was a trend toward increased farmstead use in the winter. Mean monthly survival rate was 0.77 with an annual survival of 0.04.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
|Date Available in IDEALS:||2014-12-17|