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Title: Does short-term habitat management for the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) have lasting effects?
Authors: Encarnação, Cláudia
Medinas, Denis
Alves, Paulo Célio
Mira, António
Keywords: Habitat management
Long-term effectiveness
Mediterrranean landscape
Rabbit presence
Variance partitioning
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Ecological Research
Citation: Encarnação, C.; Medinas, D.; Alves, P.C.; Mira, A. (2019). Does short-term habitat management for the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) have lasting effects? Ecological Research, 34:296-308
Abstract: The European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, a keystone species of Mediterranean ecosystems, is the target of several recovery and management plans throughout the Iberian Peninsula. The majority of these plans are limited in time by budget constraints and lack postintervention monitoring of population trends. This study was conducted in south-west Portugal and aimed to understand the effect of habitat management and its early cessation on rabbit populations. We assessed rabbit presence and relative abundance before management (2007), during the implementation of measures (2008), immediately after (2009) and 3 years after measures ended (2012). We applied a model selection approach, using general zed linear models to determine the relative importance of MANAGED and UNMANAGED habitat features on rabbit presence in each year. We used spatial eigenvector mapping to describe the spatial autocorrelation in rabbit presence and a variation partitioning approach to quantify the relative effects of management-related variables, unmanaged environmental descriptors and spatial characteristics on rabbit presence. Rabbit presence and abundance increased shortly after the management intervention but decreased 3 years after. Rabbit presence was positively related to the proximity of installed crops and the existence of favorable soils for digging. Habitat management-related variables explained most of the variation in all models. Habitat improvement actions, particularly the sowing of pastures, contributed to increased rabbit presence. We propose a continued long-term intervention and the cultivation of crops with auto-regeneration properties (e.g., subterranean clover—Trifolium subterraneum) with the aim of continuing to increase rabbit presence and abundance in areas where rabbit populations are scarce.
Type: article
Appears in Collections:MED - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica
BIO - Publicações - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais Com Arbitragem Científica

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