The Effects of Cheatgrass on Black-Tailed Jackrabbit Abundance

The Effects of Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) on black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) Relative Abundance at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

Victoria Holman, Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Bryan Kluever Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

Project Summary:
Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is an invasive species known to compete with and displace native species in lower-elevation, dry western ecosystems. This project evaluated the effects of cheatgrass on black-tailed jackrabbits, a habitat generalist that prefers succulent vegetation as forage. It was hypothesized that the increase in the occurrence of cheatgrass would negatively influence black-tailed jackrabbit abundance.

Using cheatgrass occurrence and GIS data developed through remotely sensed methods, ground surveys of existing vegetation and jackrabbit populations were conducted. Using generalized linear mixed models, data were analyzed. The findings did not support the initial hypothesis that increased cheatgrass cover would negatively impacted black-tailed jackrabbit populations.

This project funded by UtahView. Access to study site provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.

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