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Sylvilagus floridanus; Browse (Animal food); Windbreaks, shelterbelts, etc.


Use of woody vegetation as winter food by eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus) was investigated in a southeastern Minnesota farmstead shelterbelt. Cottontails browsed on 11 species but exhibited a clear preference only for gooseberry (Ribes spp). When snow covered herbaceous vegetation during late winter, cottontails relied more heavily on high fiber, lower protein woody browse. Shelterbelt management that allows invasion of gooseberry and blackcap raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) provides winter food for cottontails and may reduce damage to planted trees.

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