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Development and application of a resource selection model for pygmy rabbits /

by Meisel, Jennifer K.

Abstract (Summary)
Pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) in Oregon and Washington are a sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp.) obligate species of concern because of declining populations and extirpation from much of their range. Efforts are underway to establish a captive bred population of the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit in Washington state for reintroduction into the wild. We developed a resource selection model based on soil and vegetation characteristics of occupied pygmy rabbit habitat at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Oregon. Data collected in Oregon were used to quantify relationships of pygmy rabbits with their habitat. Using logistic regression and Akaike?s Information Criterion (AICc) to identify the best model, we determined that big sagebrush height and soil percent sand content were the two habitat characteristics most predictive of occupied pygmy rabbit burrow locations. The model indicated that the odds ratio of an occupied pygmy rabbit burrow occurrence increased with an increase in percent sand content of soils and big sagebrush height. We then applied the resource selection model using a two-step approach. We first used a Geographic Information System (GIS) to determine broad scale areas of suitable habitat for the potential reintroduction of pygmy rabbits at Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington, and then collected data on the ground to determine the best suitable habitat. Using GIS procedures, we found approximately 8500 ha of potential habitat at Hanford Reach National Monument. Field data collected within the potential habitat were used to further define 3035 ha as the most suitable habitat for pygmy rabbits. Lands that currently support pygmy rabbits, or areas identified as potential habitat in Washington, can be used to prioritize management or restoration efforts for pygmy rabbits and their habitats.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Oregon State University

School Location:USA - Oregon

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:pygmy rabbit big sagebrush habitat selection

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