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Dietary Adaptability of the Desert Cottontail

Frank J. Turkowski
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 39, No. 4 (Oct., 1975), pp. 748-756
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3800237
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3800237
Page Count: 9
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Dietary Adaptability of the Desert Cottontail
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Abstract

Seasonal diets of Arizona desert cottontails (Sylvilagus audubonii) were determined by stomach analysis. Relative habitat abundance of plant species was estimated and seasonal preference indices were determined. Diet composition and food preferences changed through the sampling periods in relation to environmental factors. Desert cottontails are highly adaptable to changing moisture regimes and apparently can survive drought periods on a diet consisting mainly of dry grasses and forbs, using cactus and forbs with high moisture contents as a source of water. Grasses contributed 37.9 percent of the total dietary bulk, forbs 41.3 percent, and shrubs 20.8 percent. Forty-three plant species or genera were identified in the stomach contents during the 16-month study period.

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