Hare don't care! Consumption of a rare, desert milkweed containing phytochemicals by the black-tailed jackrabbit

Authors: Steven M. Grodsky, Leslie S. Saul-Gershenz, Kara A. Moore-O’Leary, Jason P. Whitney, Rebecca R. Hernandez

We recorded video providing the first conclusive evidence that the black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) consumes Mojave milkweed (Asclepias nyctaginifolia) containing phytochemicals in the Ivanpah Valley, Mojave Desert, California, USA. We discuss possible chemical and biological interactions between the black-tailed jackrabbit and Mojave milkweed. We explore potential ecological effects of black-tailed jackrabbit herbivory on Mojave milkweed, including competition with the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and its close relative the queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus), and how these ecological interactions may be affected by anthropogenic land-use and land-cover change in arid environments of the western United States.

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