Morphological changes in introduced eastern cottontails in Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/76537484n

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  • Descendants of eastern cottontails from Ohio (Sylvilagns floridanus) introduced in Benton County, Oregon and cottontails from Ohio were sampled and analyzed morphometrically and colorimetrically. In general, Oregon cottontails were smaller and lighter in color than Ohio rabbits. Introgression and interspecific competition with the smaller and darker colored native brush rabbit (S. bachmani) were considered unlikely explanations for observed small size and light color in introduced cottontails. Seasonal differences in rainfall between Ohio and Oregon were suggested as a possible selective force because of the apparent effect of rainfall on population dynamics of Nuttall's cottontails (S. nuttallii) . Random processes (genetic drift and an unrepresentative founding population) could not be rejected as possible causes for both small body size and light pelage color. A combination of selective and random processes seems the likely explanation for observed morphological differences.
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