Master of Science (MS)
Cameras, Central Valley, Endangered Species, Riparian Brush Rabbit, Track Plates
With the rapid growth of agricultural and urban development in California's Central Valley in the 20th and 21st centuries, many habitats, including riparian forests, have been drastically altered. Along with these habitats, species that are dependent on them have also been fragmented and their long-term survival threatened. The riparian brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani riparius) is one such species that has experienced profound population contraction over the past century. This research was conducted at Caswell Memorial State Park ("the Park"), located in Ripon, California, which is the largest remaining habitat fragment within the rabbit's historical range. One objective of this research was to characterize the vegetation of the Park which can be used as a model of suitable rabbit habitat. The Park was also surveyed for rabbit presence using motion sensor cameras and track plates. The relationships between vegetation and rabbit presence were evaluated and, although not statistically significant, the rabbit sites generally lacked high canopy, while blackberry and sedge were present. Strikingly, rabbits were found only at four sites (n=125). Additionally, the two data collection methods used, motion sensor cameras and track plates, were evaluated on their effectiveness for detecting mammals within this habitat. This research showed that both methods were equally effective, although cameras proved to be superior for more practical reasons.
Elsholz, Clinton Robert, "Riparian Brush Rabbit Habitat Requirements in Caswell Memorial State Park" (2010). Master's Theses. 3857.