We surveyed snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) and mountain cottontail (Sylvilagus nuttallii) in coniferous forests in northern New Mexico. L. americanus was restricted to the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan ranges in a narrow band of elevations corresponding to subalpine coniferous forest. In contrast, S. nuttallii was widely distributed and virtually cosmopolitan, occupying a wide range of elevations and vegetation zones, including subalpine coniferous forest where it was syntopic with L. americanus. Previous reports about the distribution and ecological associations of these species at their southern limits indicated broader ecological associations for L. americanus and narrower ecological associations for S. nuttallii. Historical reports about the biogeography of these species likely were based on misinterpretation of leporid sign and specimen records. We make recommendations for reducing problems associated with the interpretation of anecdotal natural history information and specimen records.
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