An Ecological Study of the Black-Tailed Jack-Rabbit Lepus Californicus in Missouri

Date of Graduation

Fall 1990


Master of Science in Biology



Committee Chair

Lynn Robbins


Black-tailed jackrabbits, which once ranged over the western half of Missouri, are now on the state's Endangered Species List. Populations are scarce and restricted to the southwest corner of the state. This study was designed to determine the ecological requirements of these jackrabbits in an effort to determine if management of the species in Missouri is feasible. The majority of the data were gathered from a study site in Lawrence County, near Friestatt. Plant structure and plant species diversity were examined through stem height measurements and plant collections and identification. Jackrabbit activity was monitored through direct observations, spotlighting, and with infrared-triggered camera units. Pasture fields were found to be the preferred habitat over hay and crop fields on the study site. A seasonal activity pattern was discovered in which jackrabbits were active during the daylight hours from the 1st of May to the 31st of August and strictly nocturnal the remainder of the year. Daily activity patterns (observed from May 1st to August 31st during the two years of data collection), consisting of moving, foraging, and grooming, were found to peak during the first few and last few hours of daylight. Management would be difficult for two reasons: 1) this is a typically shortgrass prairie/desert species living in tallgrass prairie habitat; 2) existing populations are small and scattered.

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© Andrew W Hodge