Title

PARASITES OF THE NEW ENGLAND COTTONTAIL (SYLVILAGUS TRANSITIONALIS) IN THE PRESENCE OF A NON-NATIVE HOST AND INVASIVE VEGETATION

Date of Award

3-27-2018

Semester of Degree

May

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Major Professor

Jonathan Cohen

CO-MP

Christopher Whipps

Steering Committee Member

Howard Kilpatrick

Abstract

Imperiled New England cottontails (Sylvilagus transitionalis, NEC) and non-native eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus, EC) are sympatric in New York. This project entailed a survey of parasites in cottontail species and their environment, and examined differences between parasites of EC and NEC. There were more ticks on NEC than EC. Tick burdens of cottontails were correlated with dominant vegetation type. Sites dominated by invasive vegetation had higher tick abundances than other sites. The presence of EC at a site did not affect the tick abundances on NEC. Seven Eimeria species, a gastrointestinal protozoan parasite, were found in the two cottontail species, but there was no difference in the prevalence of Eimeria between the cottontail species. Two species of Eimeria that I found are known to cause coccidiosis. Population level effects of parasites on NEC should be investigated, and parasites should be considered when restoring habitat or translocating rabbits for conservation purposes.

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