Effect of vegetation type and environmental factors on European wild rabbitOryctolagus cuniculus counts in a southern Portuguese montado
- Cite this article as:
- Martins, H., Barbosa, H., Hodgson, M. et al. Acta Theriol (2003) 48: 385. doi:10.1007/BF03194177
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This study assesses the effect of vegetation and variables related to weather and light conditions on the efficacy of rabbitOryctolagus cuniculus (Linnaeus, 1758) counts carried out in the south of Portugal. Counts were carried out in two years using driven line transects, and correlated with vegetation type and the variables using generalised linear models. The offset was a surveyed area estimated using Distance Sampling Theory as a means of correcting for detectability bias. More rabbits were observed in dense vegetation during day-time counts and in crops during night-time counts. In 1998, day-time counts were higher with higher average daily temperatures, whilst the night-time counts were higher with higher minimum daily temperatures. In 1999, day-time counts decreased with the amount of rainfall in the previous month, and the night-time counts decreased with the accumulated rainfall in the previous two months and with the higher wind speeds. In order to increase efficacy, counts should be carried out either at dawn or at dusk during the post-breeding season, and with greater intensity in dense scrub or open vegetation with high tree cover. During the breeding season and winter, counts should be carried out after dusk and with greater intensity in arable crops.