Productivity Of Georgia Cottontails

Between October, 1965 and April, 1968, 446 adult female cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus fioridanus) were collected from the Mountain, Pied. mont, and Coastal Plain physiographic regions of Georgia. Prevalence of pregnancy and litter sizes were determined from data on dissected specimens. Although average litter size exhibited a peak of 3.53 in April, no significant differences were noted among months. Also, no significant differences in litter sizes were observed among physiographic regions. Data on prevalence of pregnancy revealed a high percentage of pregnant females in March, April, and May only. Reduced litter sizes, numbers of litters per season, and prevalence of pregnancies indicate lower potential productivity by Georgia cottontails as compared to cottontails from Missouri. A higher potential productivity would appear to be a selective advantage to populations of cottontails in areas where severe climatic conditions might cause significant population declines. Conversely, lower potential productivity is apparently adequate for survival in areas of less severe winter weather.

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