Sylvilagus audubonii 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Lagomorpha Leporidae

Scientific Name: Sylvilagus audubonii (Baird, 1858)
Common Name(s):
English Desert Cottontail, Audubon's Cottontail
Spanish Conejo Del Desierto
Taxonomic Notes: There are 11 recognized subspecies: Sylvilagus audubonii audubonii, S. a. arizonae, S. a. minor, S. a. Baileyi, S. a. confinis, S. a. sanctidiegi, S. a. goldmani, S. a. parvulus, S. a. cedrophilus, S. a. neomexicanus, and S. a. vallicola (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. & Boyer, A.F. (Lagomorph Red List Authority)
Sylvilagus audubonii is widespread and common, occurs in a large contiguous area, is a habitat and dietary generalist, and none of the subspecies are known to be significantly declining (Chapman and Willner 1978, Chapman and Ceballos 1990).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Sylvilagus audubonii occurs in the western USA and north and central Mexico. In the USA the western boundary is the Pacific Ocean and in the east it barely extends into the Great Plains. The far northern extent of the range almost reaches Canada in eastern Montana and southwestern North Dakota, extending south through Wyoming, western South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, the panhandle of Oklahoma, and western Texas. Except for extreme mountainous areas, the range includes Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, south and central Utah, southern Nevada, and all but northern California (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). In Mexico, the range includes all of Baja California, Baja California Sur, most of Sonora and Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, western Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, eastern Durango, northern Sinaloa, north-eastern Jalisco, northern Guanajuato, northern Queretaro, central Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, north-central Puebla, and a small area in western Veracruz (Vargas Cuenca and Cervantes 2005).

S. audubonii occurs from below sea level in Death Valley, California, to 1,829 m or higher (Chapman and Willner 1978).
Countries occurrence:
Mexico (Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Nuevo León, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Zacatecas); United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wyoming)
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):1829
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Little specific data regarding population density and abundance exists, but S. audubonii is known to be common throughout most of its range in Mexico and is not considered to be threatened by state game agencies in the USA (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). A report in 1947 showed that a population in the San Joaquin Experimental Range in California had a population density that fluctuated over three years (1939-41) of 4.7, 1.6, and 2.9 individuals per hectare (Chapman and Willner 1978). A study in northeastern Colorado showed a density of 16.3 individuals per hectare (Flinders and Hansen 1973).

In the Reserva de la Biosfera de Mapimi in Durango, Mexico, the S. audubonii population is declining (Portales 2004).
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:S. audubonii inhabits arid and mountain regions from woodlands, grasslands to deserts at low elevations (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). They appear to avoid midday heat and are active in the twilight hours of dawn and dusk as well as at night (Hoffmeister 1986).

The breeding season begins in December or January for a length of seven to nine months. Mean litter sizes vary among populations, between 2.6-3.6 young per litter, which is small for the genus (Chapman and Willner 1978). Total length for this species ranges from 37.2-40.0 cm (Vargas Cuenca and Cervantes 2005).

The diet of S. audubonii varies depending on habitat and cover. Field dwelling rabbits feed almost exclusively on grasses, but will eat diverse vegetation when available (Chapman and Willner 1978, Chapman and Ceballos 1990).

Early evidence indicated that S. audubonii is short-lived and one study found that no rabbit lived past the age of 19 months, while most rabbits lived less than one year (Chapman and Willner 1978).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is hunted for food and sport.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): S. audubonii is widespread and common in many parts of its range, including Mexico, but cattle grazing and habitat loss due to land clearing may affect some populations (Chapman and Ceballos 1990). Predation by invasive alien species, including domestic dogs and cats, presents a threat in some areas populated by humansi (Chapman and Willner 1978).

S. audubonii is hunted for sport and local subsistence and as an important game species it is managed by individual states in the USA, where it is not considered to be under threat (Chapman and Ceballos 1990).

Human-induced fire may represent a threat for some populations. Competition with Lepus californicus may affect S. audubonii populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: S. audubonii is managed a game species in the USA by individual state wildlife agencies. None of the subspecies are known to be under threat and no new conservation measures are needed (Chapman and Ceballos 1990).

Citation: Mexican Association for Conservation and Study of Lagomorphs (AMCELA), Romero Malpica, F.J. & Rangel Cordero, H. 2008. Sylvilagus audubonii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41297A10417635. . Downloaded on 25 June 2018.
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