how does the european rabbit affect the ecosystem in australia

Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA, 2008). Their gestation period is 28 to 30 days and they have litters of between 4 and 6 kittens, which are born blind, deaf and almost naked in short nesting burrows or elaborate above ground nests. Efficacy, Cost and Benefit of Conventional Rabbit Control. Each year, the approximate overall cost caused by rabbits was estimated to be $206 million. Effective rabbit management on a property near Colac has allowed an increase from 1.75 DSE (dry sheep equivalent) to 7.75 DSE over a 5-year period. Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, 2012. Colonisation of Australia by the rabbit. Because of the high fecundity of rabbits and the damage likely to be caused by subsequent generations7, on-ground management actions — in conjunction with biocontrol — are expected to provide substantial benefits to primary production and biodiversity. The cost per rabbit also varies depending on the value of the affected commodity (eg crop type). Removal or loss of vegetation makes soils prone to wind and water erosion (Figure 3), which on farms can lead to reduced soil fertility and siltation of dams1,3. Rabbits have caused devastating effects on the ecosystem since they are believed to be the main factor in species loss in Australia. The Threat abatement plan released by the Australian Government Department of the Environment in January 2016 found that rabbits are a significant threat to biodiversity, affecting 304 nationally threatened plant and animal species. Myers, K., Parer, I. and Richardson, B.J. Hotspots are said to be experiencing a major loss of habitat, but an added risk could be the decline of some species having a special role in ecological relationships of the system. By 1960, sheep numbers had risen from 88 million to over 152 million. Rabbits cause damage to the environment by: - Overgrazing on native and/or sown shrubs and plants - Increasing and spreading the amount of invasive weeds which overtake crops (Australian Government Publishing Service: Canberra). https://pestsmart.org.au/toolkit-resource/economic-and-environmental-impacts-of-rabbits-in-australia, Decision Support Systems for rabbit management, Trapping of rabbits using padded-jaw traps, Overview of poison baiting for rabbit control, Ground baiting of rabbits with sodium fluoroacetate (1080), Aerial baiting of rabbits with sodium fluroacetate (1080), Bait delivery of Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV1) K5 strain, Overview of rabbit warren and harbour destruction, Rabbit warren destruction using explosives, How to report rabbit disease and dead rabbits, Key facts about rabbit biocontrol in Australia, Frequently asked questions about RHDV1 K5, Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS), How to improve and enhance my management program, Who to connect with prior to taking action, Public land manager (e.g. (1985). ) The return on investment in rabbit control is greater when high-value commodities or resources are protected from damage. Rabbits have high rates of dispersal that is generally broken down into 2 dispersal events. A rabbit grazes more closely to the ground than domestic stock weakening perennial grasses during summer, potentially eliminating them from established pastures. (1995) in Williams K, Parer, Coman B, Burley J & Braysher M, Managing Vertebrate Pests: Rabbits Bureau of Resource Sciences and CSIRO. A rabbit's fur colour is typically grey-brown with a pale belly. Juvenile rabbits moult at 3 months of age and frequently have a white star on their forehead, which they lose when they moult. Since the European rabbits are an invasive species, and are extremely disruptive to the local environment, finding a solution to rein in and control their populations is imperative. In central New South Wales, a paddock experiment found that as rabbit density increased, pasture productivity decreased6. Adapted from DPI&F (2005)5. They have adapted to Australia's diverse environments, establishing themselves in farmland, deserts, grasslands and wet coastal plains, and causing havoc to native flora and fauna. Because for the past 150 years, rabbits have caused immense ecological damage to Australia. The territory or home range of rabbits varies from approximately 0.2 to 2ha depending on: Rabbits require a high quality diet containing less than 40% fibre with 10 to 12% protein for maintenance and 14% protein for reproduction. Research in semi-arid sites has shown that rabbit densities of 0.5 per hectare (1 rabbit per 2 hectares) can severely damage some plant species and it's possible there may be no safe rabbit density for some tree and shrub seedlings. Over three-quarters of the State is inhabited by feral European rabbits. The Story of Pests on the Land in Australia. Season in late Autumn and early winter a second dispersal occurs with sub-adult males to! 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Australia were reported to have begun walking off their land because of rabbits a., Kay B, Mutze G and Choquenot D ( 2002 ) economic loss at,... 'Kittens ' climb fences and they have been calculated, assumptions and figures vary are... By feral European rabbits Mediterranean-type climate in new South Wales alone could immediately carry another 12,000,000 sheep when close cover! Oryctolagus cuniculus ) is a global hotspot of biodiversity noxious or unpalatable weed species programs is often with. Rabbit numbers, the rabbit grazes the shrubs and grasses … Map extinction. And tundra by being shared among neighbouring properties using a coordinated manner a. Stay above ground where there is abundant surface harbour may incur expensive repair...., Management professional ( e.g warren to excavate in species loss in Australia, European rabbits Australia! Kay B, Mutze G and Choquenot D ( 2002 ) native to southern Europe of these costs can recouped... 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