Colorado is home to eight species of lagomorphs, the mammalian group that includes pikas, rabbits, hares, and jackrabbits. The largest in the state, the white-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii), can reach speeds of up to 40 mph when it needs to escape predators. Also known as the prairie hare or white jack, the WTJR's coat changes color seasonally, brown in summer, white in winter, and in variable degrees in the southern part of their range (Colorado). Unfortunately, the WTJR is declining in some areas of Colorado as a result of a changing climate, habitat loss, and changing predator populations. The genomics underlying their coat color change and what it means for WTJRs in a changing environment are being studied collaboratively by researchers at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the University of Montana and the University of Porto.
These images show the diversity of seasonal coat color changes.
John R. Demboski, PhD
Senior Curator of Mammals and Director of Zoology and Health Sciences
Jeffrey T. Stephenson
Andrew Doll, MS
Zoology Assistant Collections Manager