Farming for pests? Local and landscape-scale effects of grassland management on rabbit densities

Article, Unknown English OPEN
Petrovan , Silviu O. ; Barrio , Isabel C. ; Ward , Alastair I. ; Wheeler , Philip M. (2010)
  • Publisher: Springer Verlag
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1007/s10344-010-0394-9
  • Subject: Pest | Grassland management | Rabbit | Oryctolagus cuniculus | Pasture | Sheep

Abstract In recent decades in the UK, there has been an increasing trend in numbers of the European wild rabbit, a significant agricultural pest typically associated with grassland habitats. However, the relationship between rabbit abundance and grassland management, in particular grazing, has not been sufficiently explained. We studied rabbit densities in seven pasture-dominated sites in north-east England between autumn and spring in two consecutive years, and used generalised linear mixed models and generalised additive models to explore relationships between habitat and management variables and rabbit abundance at local (field) and landscape scales. At the local scale high rabbit densities were significantly associated with small fields and the very short, homogeneous swards created by intensive sheep grazing during autumn and winter. At the landscape scale, high rabbit numbers were associated with sites with most field margins and a predator removal policy. Our results indicate that landscape management may play a central role in explaining rabbit abundance and distribution in grasslands. We suggest that current pasture management may create favourable conditions for high rabbit densities, and consequently boost numbers of this significant pest species. phone: +44-01723-357223 (Petrovan, Silviu O.) s.petrovan@hull.ac.uk (Petrovan, Silviu O.) Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences, University of Hull, Scarborough Campus - YO11 3AZ - Filey Road - UNITED KINGDOM (Petrovan, Silviu O.) The Food and Environment Research Agency - YO41 1LZ - Sand Hutton - UNITED KINGDOM (Petrovan, Silviu O.) Departamento de Zoologia, Universidad de Cordoba - Campus de Rabanales 14071 - Cordoba - SPAIN (Barrio, Isabel C.) The Food and Environment Research Agency - YO41 1LZ - Sand Hutton - UNITED KINGDOM (Ward, Alastair I.) Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences, University of Hull, Scarborough Campus - YO11 3AZ - Filey Road - UNITED KINGDOM (Wheeler, Philip M.) SPAIN UNITED KINGDOM Registration: 2010-04-20 Received: 2010-02-02 Revised: 2010-04-13 Accepted: 2010-04-20 ePublished: 2010-05-12
  • References (38)
    38 references, page 1 of 4

    Anonymous (2009) June Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture (Land use and livestock on agricultural holdings at 1 June 2009) UK provisional results DEFRA Report

    Atkinson PW, Fuller RJ, Vickery JA, Conway GJ, Tallowin JRB, Smith REN, Haysom KA, Ings TC, Asteraki EJ, Brown VK (2005) Influence of agricultural management, sward structure and food resources on grassland field use by birds in lowland England. J Appl Ecol 42:932-942

    Bakker ES, Olff H, Boekhoff M, Gleichman JM, Berendse F (2004) Impact of herbivores on nitrogen cycling: contrasting effects of small and large species. Oecologia 138:91-101. doi:10.1007/ s00442-003-1402-5

    Bakker ES, Reiffers RC, Olff H, Gleichman JM (2005) Experimental manipulation of predation risk and food quality: effect on grazing behaviour in a central-place foraging herbivore. Oecologia 146:157-167. doi:10.1007/s00442-005-0180-7

    Bakker ES, Olff H, Gleichman JM (2009) Contrasting effects of large herbivore grazing on smaller herbivores. Basic Appl Ecol 10:141-150

    Banks PB, Dickman CR, Newsome AE (1998) Ecological costs of vertebrate predator control: foxes and rabbits. J Wildl Manage 62:766-772

    Barrio IC, Acevedo P, Tortosa FS (2010). Assessment of methods for estimating wild rabbit population abundance in agricultural landscapes. European Journal of Wildlife Research. doi: 10.1007/s10344-009-0327-7

    Battersby J. (eds) & Tracking Mammals Partnership. (2005). UK mammals: species status and population trends. First Report by the Tracking Mammals Partnership. JNCC/Tracking Mammals Partnership, Peterborough

    Dendy J, McKillop G, Fox S, Western G, Langton S (2003) The development of a model to assess the effects of rabbit grazing on grass. Ann Appl Biol 142:317-322. doi:10.1111/j.1744- 7348.2003.tb00256.x

    Environment-Agency 2009. Monthly rainfall figures 1961-2009. Yorkshire and North East database right 2009.

  • Related Research Results (1)
  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark