Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

DIstribution and Abundance of the Rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus (L.), at Subantarctic Maqaurie Island

GR Copson, NP Brothers and IJ Skira

Australian Wildlife Research 8(3) 597 - 611
Published: 1981


Rabbits are common on 50% of Macquarie I. and live mainly in herbfield. Considered to be of domestic origin, they retain the basic behaviour pattern of wild European rabbits, although there is a tendency towards diurnal grazing activity. Since 1974 their numbers have been monitored by surface counting at 12 2-ha sites. In the five years to December 1978, when myxomatosis was successfully introduced to the island, numbers peaked in the 1977-78 summer, due to good breeding seasons in 1977, 1978 and earlier. Mortality of kittens was high in each year as a result of predation (by feral domestic cats, skuas and wekas) and because burrows become saturated or even flooded following rises in the free-water surface. Predators probably take similar numbers of rabbits each year, and overall recruitment of young into the population is mainly controlled by the effects of wet burrows. However, after the age of 1 y survival is high, and longevity may be 3 or more years.


© CSIRO 1981

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