A Synopsis of the North American Lagomorpha
A Synopsis of the North American Lagomorpha -The most popular small game mammal in nearly every part of North America is one or another of the species of rabbits or hares. The rabbit is one of the few species of wild game that still is hunted commercially and sold for food on the open market.
The close association and repeated contact of man with these animals has resulted in his contracting such of their diseases as are transmissible to him. Consequently, rabbits and hares have figured in many investigations concerned with public health and medicine.
Because the number of such investigations is increasing, there has been an increasing number of specimens of these animals submitted to mammalogists for identification; also, inquiries are received as to the degree of relationship between two or more of the named kinds of rabbits in which identical, or closely related, disease organisms have been found; other inquiries have to do with the degree of relationship of named kinds of rabbits and hares in widely separated parts of the continent.
The monographs to which the investigator could turn to obtain answers to some of these questions are Arthur H. Howell’s “Revision of the American Pikas” (1924), and Edward H. Nelson’s “The Rabbits of North America” (1909) published 27 and 42 years ago, respectively.
These monographs are still excellent sources of detailed information, as, of course, also is Marcus Ward Lyon’s “Classification of the Hares and their Allies” (1904). The acquisition of additional study specimens in recent years, however, has provided new data on the geographic occurrence of several species, and study of these specimens has given basis for a different arrangement of several named kinds of the lagomorphs.
Two principal aims of the present synopsis, therefore, are to combine in one publication the current taxonomic arrangement and as much as is known of the geographic distribution of the several species and subspecies.