Changes in small native animal populations following control of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) by warren ripping in the Australian arid zone

Elsworth, P. and Berman, D. and Brennan, M. (2019) Changes in small native animal populations following control of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) by warren ripping in the Australian arid zone. Wildlife Research, 46 (4). pp. 343-354. ISSN 1035-3712


Abstract

Context: European rabbits have a great impact on native vegetation and small vertebrates in Australia. Rabbits consume vegetation and promote invasive plants and invasive predators, and compete directly and indirectly with native animals suppressing those populations. Aims: We explored the changes in small native vertebrates and invertebrates following the removal of rabbits. Methods: Warren ripping was undertaken on a property in south-western Queensland at four sites and the results of pitfall trapping were compared with four nearby paired control sites. Invertebrates and small mammals were counted in pitfall traps, and bird surveys were conducted in all treatment and control sites. Key results: Following a rabbit-control program, we observed a four-fold increase in the number of dunnarts trapped in treatment plots, whereas no change was observed in control plots. The spring following the rabbit-control program also saw an increase in some lizards in treatment plots. Conclusions: The presence of rabbits in arid-zone Australia can suppress native animal populations. Implications: Many species of small native mammals and lizards rely on food sources that fluctuate greatly with environmental conditions. The presence of rabbits altering the landscape, supporting introduced predators, reducing vegetation and, therefore, insects, adds increased pressure for insectivorous species. Rabbit control through warren ripping in arid-zone Australia is an effective method to reduce rabbit numbers, and allowed for an increase in small vertebrates in treated areas.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2022 03:56
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2022 00:06
Uncontrolled Keywords: biodiversity; dunnarts; pest management
Fields of Research (2008): 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Fields of Research (2020): 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1071/WR18088
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/49059

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