The European Rabbit: Nature's Pest And Promoter

1995 words - 8 pages

The European rabbit is both a pest and a promoter of the ecosystem. In many areas where the European rabbit is an invasive species, it is often considered a pest, as in Australia. To its native land in South France and the Iberian Peninsula, this rabbit is very important to the welfare of natural wildlife, therefore populations need to be preserved and improved upon.
C. K. Williams, C. C. Davey, R. J. Moore, L. A. Hinds, L. E. Silverset, P. J. Kerr, et al, (2007) have done research toward maintaining the ever-increasing rabbit populations in Australia through sterility research upon female rabbits using virus-vectored immunocontraception. This study found that sterility decreased the numbers of fleas found on adult females and some adult males. It also found that sterility increased the life span of adult female rabbits. However, sterility has done little to decrease the population size of European rabbits in Australia. Therefore, until more successful research is done, the European rabbit will continue to be a nuisance in Australia, because completely eradicating the population could be very detrimental to the wildlife that grew accustomed to the presence of rabbits in their ecosystem.
Many researchers, including Alexander C. Lees, Francisco Palomares, Zulima Tablado, Miguel Delibes Mateos, Damien A. Fordham, and many others, have done extensive research regarding the conservation of European rabbit populations. These researchers found that factors, such as over viral illness, abundant hunting and habitat destruction, have highly contributed to the decline, and lack of improvement in rabbit populations. They concluded that habitat regulation and hunting regulations reducing hunting during breeding season will effectively help improve the populations of the native European rabbits, as well as the predator populations that rely on the rabbits as prey.

There are many types of species that invade different areas of the world; some species are more successful than others. The European rabbit, also known as Oryctolagus cuniculus, is one of the more successful invasive species in the world (Williams et al., 2007). According to Alexander C. Lees and Diana J. Bell (2008), this species has been “introduced to almost every continent, excluding Antarctica, and over 800 islands” (p. 304). To many of these continents, the European rabbit invasion is viewed as a nuisance on their land, but ridding themselves of these pests can prove to be even more troublesome. However, in the European rabbit’s native territories, large amounts of research are being performed, and many measures are being taken into consideration, to preserve this extremely ecosystem-benefitting species.
Historical Background
Oryctolagus cuniculus originated in southern France and on the Iberian Peninsula from the late Pleistocene epoch (Delibes-Mateos, Ferreras, Villafuerte, 2009). The origin of the European rabbit was determined through a Pleistocene fossil record that...

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