Orientation and homing of the brush rabbit Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/zw12z944w

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  • A study of orientation and homing in brush rabbits, Sylvilagus bachmani ubericolor (Miller), was conducted on the E. E. Wilson Game Management Area 7 miles north of Corvallis, Oregon, between July 1967 and April 1969. Sixty-seven individual rabbits were fitted with radio-transmitters and returned to the field. Home ranges were determined for 59 of these rabbits. Brush rabbits rarely left brushy cover. The home ranges of males were larger than those of females and the home ranges of juvenile males were larger than those of adult males. Nineteen of the 59 brush rabbits whose home ranges were determined were displaced in 29 homing experiments. No rabbit was displaced more than twice. Brush rabbits homed successfully in 15 of the 29 experiments. Brush rabbits did not "home" over distances as great as those reported for other members of the genus or other small mammals. Homing success was not inversely related to distance displaced as has been reported for other small mammals. Rather, there was a distinct limit at about 600 feet beyond which no rabbit homed. Random movements could not have accounted for the high percentage of rabbits that homed. Therefore, it was concluded that brush rabbit homing ability was characteristic of oriented movements. Rabbits required as long as 36 days to complete a successful homing experiment. A direct correlation was found between homing time and distance displaced. This correlation was even higher when the size of the rabbit's standard range was considered. It was concluded that brush rabbit homing ability was related to the size of the home range. With one exception brush rabbits chose clear nights to "home" indicating that sight was a primary mechanism involved in homing. There was no correlation between season of the year and homing ability, or between homing ability and sex or age. There was no relationship between initial movements and compass direction or direction of the home range. However, a significant number of rabbits left the release box in the direction of the nearest cover. Brush rabbits also restricted their routes of travel to brushy cover while attempting to "home." Four factors were found which interfered with homing: (1) inter-specific aggressive behavior, (2) roads, (3) human and vehicular activity, and (4) predators. Brush rabbit home ranges after first displacements were significantly smaller than original home ranges. However, home ranges after second displacements were not smaller. The unusual movements of two rabbits are discussed.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2010-08-26T18:02:24Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 ChapmanJosephAlan1970.pdf: 1949639 bytes, checksum: 133bef07d7af12fce6526c685c98ca3e (MD5)
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