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SGS-LTER Long-term Monitoring Project: Spotlight Rabbit Count on the Central Plains Experimental Range, Nunn, Colorado, USA 1994-2006, ARS Study Number 98


p>This data package was produced by researchers working on the Shortgrass Steppe Long Term Ecological Research (SGS-LTER) Project, administered at Colorado State University. Long-term datasets and background information (proposals, reports, photographs, etc.) on the SGS-LTER project are contained in a comprehensive project collection within the Digital Collections of Colorado (http://digitool.library.colostate.edu/R/?func=collections&collection_id=...). The data table and associated metadata document, which is generated in Ecological Metadata Language, may be available through other repositories serving the ecological research community and represent components of the larger SGS-LTER project collection. Additional information and referenced materials can be found: http://hdl.handle.net/10217/83448.

Rabbits are the most important small-mammal herbivores in shortgrass steppe, and may significant influence the physiognomy and population dynamics of herbaceous plants and woody shrubs. Rabbits also are the most important prey of mammalian carnivores such as coyotes and large raptors such as golden eagles and great horned owls. Two hares (Lepus californicus, L. townsendii) and one cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus audubonii) occur in shortgrass steppe. In 1994, we initiated long-term studies to track changes in relative abundance of rabbits on the Central Plains Experimental Range (CPER). On four nights each year (one night each season, usually on new moon nights in January, April, July, October), we drove a 32-km route consisting of pasture two-track and gravel roads on the CPER. This was the same route as that driven for carnivore scat counts. Surveys began at twilight. Observers with two spotlights sat in the back of a 4WD pick-up driven at <15 mph. We recorded the perpendicular distance (in m) to each rabbit using a meter tape or range finder; the direction of the rabbit relative to the road; and noted if individuals were solitary or in clusters. We also recorded any carnivores or other animals seen during spotlight surveys. Beginning in Spring 1998, we recorded the vegetation type (habitat) and topographic position of each rabbit seen, as well as position relative to human features, eg windmills, cattle guards, on the landscape. We used the number of rabbits of each species spotted per km of route as an index of relative abundance. We used line-transect approaches in DISTANCE to estimate population densities from perpendicular distance data.

Release Date
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area
POLYGON ((-104.785833 40.8575, -104.730556 40.8575, -104.730556 40.800278, -104.785833 40.800278))
Publisher Not Specified
Temporal Coverage
July 12, 1994 to October 18, 2006
Creative Commons Attribution
Contact Name
Stapp, Paul
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Program Code
005:040 - Department of Agriculture - National Research
Bureau Code
005:18 - Agricultural Research Service
Source ID
Harvested from Geodata Harvest
Harvest Source TitleGeodata Harvest
Harvest Source URIhttps://geodata.nal.usda.gov/geonetwork/srv/eng/csw
Last Harvest PerformedSat, 01/18/2020 - 13:37

Metadata Source

NAL Geospatial Catalog