CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Wildlife Research   
Wildlife Research
Journal Banner
  Ecology, Management and Conservation in Natural and Modified Habitats
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Board
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Notice to Authors
Submit Article
Open Access
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter youtube


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 37(4)

Does a benign calicivirus reduce the effectiveness of rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) in Australia? Experimental evidence from field releases of RHDV on bait

Greg Mutze A C, Ron Sinclair A, David Peacock A, John Kovaliski A, Lorenzo Capucci B

A Natural Resources Management Biosecurity Unit, Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation, GPO Box 2834, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.
B Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna, Brescia, Italy.
C Corresponding author. Email: greg.mutze@sa.gov.au
PDF (267 KB) $25
 Export Citation


Context. European rabbits are serious environmental and agricultural pests throughout their range in Australia. Rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) greatly reduced rabbit numbers in arid central Australia but had less impact in cooler, higher-rainfall areas. RHDV-like benign caliciviruses (bCVs) have been implicated in limiting the impact of RHDV in the higher-rainfall regions of Australia and also in Europe.

Aims. Experimental releases of RHDV on bait were tested as a means of initiating disease outbreaks. Serological evidence of antibodies to bCVs was examined to determine whether they reduce mortality rates and/or spread of the released RHDV, and how that might influence the effectiveness of future RHDV releases for rabbit management.

Methods. Four experimental releases were conducted in high-rainfall and coastal regions of southern Australia. Virus activity was implied from recapture rates and serological changes in marked rabbits, and genetic sequencing of virus recovered from dead rabbits. Changes in rabbit abundance were estimated from spotlight transect counts.

Key results. Release of RHDV on bait produced disease outbreaks that challenged almost all animals within the general release area and spread up to 4 km beyond the release sites. Recapture rates were high in marked rabbits that possessed antibodies from previous exposure to RHDV and extremely low amongst rabbits that lacked any detectable antibodies. Rabbits carrying antibodies classified as being due to previous infection with bCVs had recapture rates that were dependent on circulating antibody titre and were ~55% of recapture rates in rabbits with clear antibodies to RHDV.

Conclusions. This is the first quantified evidence that antibodies produced against bCVs provide significant protection against RHD outbreaks in field populations of rabbits.

Implications. bCVs can greatly reduce the impact of RHDV on wild-rabbit populations in Australia and presumably elsewhere. RHDV can be effectively released on bait although further releases are likely to be of minor or inconsistent benefit for controlling rabbit numbers where bCVs are common.

Keywords: benign calicivirus, biological control, ELISA, epidemiology, genetic sequencing, mark–recapture, myxomatosis, protective antibody, RHDV, survival.

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2014