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Data from: Competition alters seasonal resource selection and promotes use of invasive shrubs by an imperiled native cottontail

Cite this dataset

Cheeseman, Amanda E.; Ryan, Sadie J.; Whipps, Christopher M.; Cohen, Jonathan B. (2019). Data from: Competition alters seasonal resource selection and promotes use of invasive shrubs by an imperiled native cottontail [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Many ecosystems face multiple invaders, and interactions among invasive and native species may complicate conservation efforts for imperiled species. Examination of fine-scale resource selection can be used to detect patterns in habitat selection resulting from species interactions and assess the value of specific resources, including invasive plants, to wildlife. 2. We used animal location data with mixed-effects resource selection models to examine seasonal competitive interactions and species-specific selection for forage and cover resources by an imperiled native lagomorph, the New England cottontail Sylvilagus transitionalis and its non-native competitor, the eastern cottontail S. floridanus in the eastern Hudson Valley, NY. 3. We found evidence that resource selection by New England cottontails depended on the relative prevalence of eastern cottontails to New England cottontails. Where eastern cottontails were less prevalent New England cottontail selected for resources characteristic of early-successional shrublands. Where eastern cottontails were more prevalent, New England cottontails selected for resources characteristic of later-successional shrublands. 4. New England cottontail use of certain invasive shrubs depended on the prevalence of eastern cottontails relative to New England cottontails, suggesting response to invasive plants is confounded by interactions with a non-native competitor. 5. Our results further emphasize the need for conservation efforts to consider invasive management within the ecosystem context. We demonstrate the utility of resource selection studies to assist in this regard by exploring competitive interactions in the absence of removal studies, while simultaneously assessing the impact of habitat components such as invasive vegetation on species of conservation concern. 6. Synthesis and applications Resource selection studies can be directly applied to inform ongoing species conservation where multiple invaders are present or where species interactions influence resource selection. Fine-scale assessments of resource selection, similar to those presented here, can be used to selectively manage habitat to benefit desired species within the ecosystem context.

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New York