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Lepus californicus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA LAGOMORPHA LEPORIDAE

Scientific Name: Lepus californicus
Species Authority: Gray, 1837
Common Name(s):
English Black-tailed Jackrabbit
Spanish Liebre De Cola Negra
Taxonomic Notes: There are 17 subspecies recognized: Lepus californicus altamirae, L. c. asellus, L. c. bennettii, L. c. californicus, L. c. curti, L. c. deserticola, L. c. eremicus, L. c. festinus, L. c. magdalenae, L. c. martrensis, L. c. melanotis, L. c. merriami, L. c. richardsonii, L. c. sheldoni, L. c. texianus, L. c. wallawalla, and L. c. xanti (Hall 1981).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Mexican Association for Conservation and Study of Lagomorphs (AMCELA), Romero Malpica, F.J. & Rangel Cordero, H.
Reviewer(s): Smith, A.T. & Johnston, C.H. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Justification:
Lepus californicus is a widespread species, whose range is expanding.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Lepus californicus is widely distributed across Mexico and the USA (Flinders and Chapman 2003). Its range in Mexico includes the states of Hidalgo, Queretaro, northern Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, eastern Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, eastern Durango, Chihuahua (excluding the southwest region), the extreme northeast region of Jalisco, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, northern Sonora, and the entire Baja peninsula (Flinders and Chapman 2003). In the USA its range includes Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, most of Oklahoma including an isolated population in eastern section of the state, western Missouri, Utah (excluding the northeast), California (excluding part of the central region), most of Oregon (excluding western and central regions), southeast Washington, southern Idaho, and isolated population in Montana, and the extreme western region and southeast portion of Wyoming (Flinders and Chapman 2003). L. californicus was successfully introduced into Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and southern Florida (Flinders and Chapman 2003). It occurs in elevations ranging from - 84 m to 3,750 m (Flinders and Chapman 2003).
Countries:
Native:
Mexico (Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas); United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida - Introduced, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland - Introduced, Massachusetts - Introduced, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey - Introduced, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia - Introduced, Washington, Wyoming)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: In the Reserva de la Biosfera de Mapimi:
14-37 individuals/km² shrublands
12-44 individuals/km² grassland.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: L. californicus is capable of inhabiting many types of habitat (Flinders and Chapman 2003). This species is positively associated, in terms of abundance and distribution, with overgrazing by domestic livestock (Flinders and Chapman 2003). Diet is also variable for this species, dependent upon vegetation availability and location (Flinders and Chapman 2003). Generally, grasses and forbs are selected during the summer, while shrubs are chosen during winter months (Flinders and Chapman 2003). Variability in home range size is due to multiple factors like cover, predators, and competition (Flinders and Chapman 2003). L. californicus exhibits crepuscular feeding behavior (Flinders and Chapman 2003).

The total length of L. californicus is 46.5-63.0 cm (Hall and Kelson 1959). The breeding season is variable, contingent on latitude and environmental factors (Flinders and Chapman 2003). In Idaho the season is restricted to February to May (French et al. 1965). Where distribution occurs at lower latitudes the breeding season extends; in the southwestern USA it may last from early January to September (Griffing and Davis 1976). Gestation is variable but ranges from 40-47 days (Flinders and Chapman 2003). The litter size varies from 3.8-4.4 in the north to three to six in the south, giving a total output per female per year of about 10-14 (Best 1996). Total length at birth is variable dependent upon litter size, but a measurement in Arizona gave a length of 14.0 cm (Vorhies and Taylor 1933). Adult mortality is approximately 57%, while juvenile mean mortality ranges from 59-63% (Flinders and Chapman 2003).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): L. californicus is at risk from hunting for sport and local subsistence, human perturbation and exotic predation. In some places the animal competition (livestock), habitat fragmentation and human-induced fire represent important threats for their populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The following conservation measures are recommended for L. californicus, research in monitoring/trends and species-based action regarding harvest management. Long-term research is recommended with regard to ecological relationships and population dynamics and genetics (Flinders and Chapman 2003). There is also a need for more definitive classification of jackrabbit subspecies (Flinders and Chapman 2003). Furthermore, data are needed to determine gaps in distribution and relationship dynamics between L. californicus and other jackrabbits that occur sympatrically (Flinders and Chapman 2003).

Citation: Mexican Association for Conservation and Study of Lagomorphs (AMCELA), Romero Malpica, F.J. & Rangel Cordero, H. 2008. Lepus californicus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 September 2014.
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