Natural Resources and the Environment
College or School
Wildlife and Conservation Biology
Faculty Research Advisor
The New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) is a shrubland habitat specialist, endangered in New Hampshire and Maine. Recovery efforts for this species include captive breeding programs, like outdoor captive breeding pens in Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Newington, NH. As with similar programs, there have been challenges with successfully breeding New England cottontails. The fencing and supplemental feeder in the outdoor breeding pen may impact the predators and small mammal communities, with potential negative consequences for cottontails. We hypothesized that the fenced enclosure would attract small mammals inside the pens, in turn attracting predators. We tested this hypothesis with live trapping of small mammals in three separate locations in and around the pen, including at and away from supplemental feeders. Camera traps were also placed at feeders and along the fence to monitor predators. Contrary to our hypothesis, we found that small mammal captures and abundance estimated by the Schnabel method were the highest outside the pen; captures were lower near the feeder than away, while abundance estimates had the opposite pattern. Predators were primarily observed at supplemental feeders. This will inform decisions for captive breeding success.
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O'del, Jenna N.; Stefanelli, Allison M.; Bauer, Melissa L.; and Kovach, Adrienne I., "Investigating Threats of Small Mammal Populations and Associated Predation in Captive Breeding Pens of New England Cottontail" (2020). Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Student Presentations. 457.