STUDYING THE BEHAVIOR AND ECOLOGY OF THE RIPARIAN BRUSH RABBIT WITH CAMERA TRAPS DURING EXTREME FLOOD
|Celia Tarcha; email@example.com;
The endangered riparian brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani riparius; RBR) is a brush species found in a few areas of the San Joaquin Valley of California. The subject of large restoration projects, little is known of RBR habits or interactions. Camera traps can capture activity and behavior in their dense habitat, providing insight into their habitat usage and, potentially, their recovery. Originally a Master’s camera trap project with goals of studying behavioral interactions and usage of restored sites. Extreme flooding in 2017 stranded the study population with concentrated prey and predator populations. In response, the camera study shifted to capture this pulse event at San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge from February to August 2017. Camera traps captured RBR performing a variety of behaviors, including territorial and reproductive behaviors, despite the limiting circumstances. In contrast to the crowded conditions, most behaviors recorded were individual, suggesting a solitary lifestyle. Interspecific interactions were primarily with competitor species, mostly the desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii). Further, camera traps captured RBR interacting with exotic plants and supplemental feed in addition to native plant species. Overall, this study highlighted the additional knowledge gained from behavior and camera studies.