We used radiotelemetry to locate daytime forms of endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbits (LKMRs; Sylvilagus palustris hefneri) throughout their range so we could determine habitat characteristics of diurnal cover. We typically found forms (n = 1,298) of 36 rabbits in brackish wetlands in patches of saltmarsh or buttonwoods. In freshwater wetlands, forms (n = 54) were located most often in patches of freshwater hardwoods embedded in or adjacent to freshwater marshes. Forms (n = 942) in brackish wetlands were characterized by thick groundcover (>75%), whereas those (n = 42) in freshwater wetlands had both thick groundcover and canopy vegetation. The mean minimum convex polygon around forms of 15 rabbits was 1.4 ha (SD = 1.7), with smaller ranges characterized by thick bunchgrasses or clump-forming sedges. To increase the amount of annual space usable by LKMRs, managers should provide more saltmarsh habitat interspersed with buttonwoods and enhance ground cover in existing habitat.
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Vol. 72 • No. 5