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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 34(4)

Rabbit conservation: models to evaluate the effects of timing of restocking on recipient and donor populations

Irene Cotilla A B, Rafael Villafuerte A

A Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM),
Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13071 – Ciudad Real, Spain.

B Corresponding author. Email: Irene.Cotilla@uclm.es
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In recent decades, the translocation of European wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) has been a common strategy used by gamekeepers and conservationists to improve populations with low rabbit abundance. Using a non-spatial, mixed stochastic–deterministic model, we assessed the effects of the timing of restocking of rabbits on the persistence of wild rabbit populations, as well as the effects of extraction on donor populations. Different age-structured restocking strategies and extraction rates were tested. We also assessed the number of restocking batches that a donor population can supply while remaining stable. Our results indicate that the best months to introduce individuals are October–March, with the highest success in January. In contrast, the best timing for extraction is during summer, when the number of individuals is high. Authorities should therefore include the timing and number of rabbits released or captured in their management strategies, especially where these factors have been previously overlooked.

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