Habitat management as a generalized tool to boost European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus populations in the Iberian Peninsula: a cost-effectiveness analysis
Article first published online: 10 APR 2013
© 2013 The Mammal Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Volume 44, Issue 1, pages 30–43, January 2014
How to Cite
Ferreira, C., Touza, J., Rouco, C., Díaz-Ruiz, F., Fernandez-de-Simon, J., Ríos-Saldaña, C. A., Ferreras, P., Villafuerte, R. and Delibes-Mateos, M. (2014), Habitat management as a generalized tool to boost European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus populations in the Iberian Peninsula: a cost-effectiveness analysis. Mammal Review, 44: 30–43. doi: 10.1111/mam.12006
- Issue published online: 4 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 10 APR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 9 JAN 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 6 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 2 JUL 2012
- Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia of the Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior, Portuguese government
- Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation
- European Social Fund
- regional government of Castilla-La Mancha
- University of Castilla-La Mancha
- National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACyT)
- EU-FEDER funds
- economic assessment;
- evidence-based conservation;
- landscape restoration;
- population management
- The European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus was designated as a protected species in Spain and Portugal following sharp declines in many populations. The ongoing decline highlights the need to implement cost-effective management strategies for this staple prey and important small game species of Iberian Mediterranean ecosystems.
- Habitat management is one strategy in general use, though little is known about its true influence on rabbit populations. The main goal of this study was to assess the frequency of use and cost-effectiveness of habitat management techniques for European rabbit populations in the Iberian Peninsula. We conducted a thorough literature review and used this information to: (i) estimate the frequency of use of habitat management techniques; (ii) evaluate the relative and absolute effectiveness of habitat management; and (iii) assess the economic implications of its application.
- At least one habitat management technique was used on over 60% of hunting estates. The relative effectiveness (measured as the % population change before and after management) of habitat management techniques is high, although we found no relationship between high relative effectiveness and rabbit densities considered biologically and/or economically meaningful (e.g. densities able to support a breeding population of endangered predators or medium to high rabbit harvest yields). We did not find any clear relationship between the cost and the effectiveness of the habitat management techniques applied, as the most costly techniques were not the most successful ones.
- We conclude that rabbit management strategies in the Iberian Peninsula should include improved and upscaled protocols for habitat management, in order to mitigate threats and promote the recovery of rabbit populations.