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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Rabbit biocontrol and landscape-scale recovery of threatened desert mammals

Published source details

Pedler R.D., Brandle R., Read J.L., Southgate R., Bird P. & Moseby K.E. (2016) Rabbit biocontrol and landscape-scale recovery of threatened desert mammals. Conservation Biology, 30, 774-782

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Remove/control non-native mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A before-and-after study in 1970–2014 in an arid region in South Australia, Australia (Pedlar et al. 2016) found that control of invasive European rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, using rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus, increased the area occupied by four native small mammal species. The extent of occurrence and area of occupancy (both expressed in thousands of km2) was greater after outbreaks of rabbit hemorrhagic disease than before for spinifex hopping mouse Notomys alexis (extent: 276–356 vs 180; area: 7–8 vs 3), dusky hopping mouse Notomys fuscus (extent: 105–130 vs 23; area: 6–11 vs 2), plains mouse Pseudomys australis (extent: 217–252 vs 63; area: 4–6 vs 2) and crest-tailed mulgara Dasycercus cristicauda (extent: 98–133 vs 1; area: 12–13 vs 1). After the first virus outbreak, rabbit abundance decreased by 85% (raw data not provided) in one site and from 139 to 22 rabbits/km2 in the other site. Cat Felis catus and fox Vulpes vulpes numbers followed rabbit population trends. Occurrence records over a 615,000 km2 region were compiled from published sources and divided into periods covering before the outbreak (1970–1995) and after first and second outbreaks (1996–2009 and 2010–2014). Area of occupancy was calculated from occupied 10 × 10 km grid squares. Extent of occurrence was calculated from minimum convex polygons around species records. Rabbit abundance was monitored in two long-term study sites using spotlight transects.

(Summarised by Ricardo Rocha)