Lagomorph Biology

pp 317-326

Managing the European Rabbit: Converging Interests Between Australian Research for Rabbit Control and European Research for their Conservation

  • Brian CookeAffiliated withCSIRO Sustainable EcosystemsCharles Darwin FoundationInvasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre, University of Canberra

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In Europe, European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are a natural part of the fauna, or recognized traditionally as such, and their conservation is a primary management objective (see Letty et al. 2008, this book). Rabbits are a key grazing species in the Mediterranean shrub lands of Spain, Portugal and southern France and they are the primary prey of endangered predators such as the Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti, and the Iberian Lynx, Lynx pardinus. Rabbits are also important as wild game and support major hunting industries, in France, Portugal and Spain. By contrast, in Australia and New Zealand, rabbits are recognized pests and are vigorously suppressed. Despite these opposing aims, however, international collaboration has grown over the last 25 years and has greatly increased our knowledge of the management of European rabbits. This collaboration was stimulated by Ken Myers and Charles MacInness who organized the 1st World Lagomorph Conference held in Guelph, Canada, in 1979. Contacts made between scientists at that time led to very useful advances in rabbit research and the 2nd World Lagomorph Conference in Vairao, Portugal, 26–30 July, 2004, provided an opportunity to review some of the progress made as well as looking towards future progress.