Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


Editor-in-Chief: Denys, Christiane

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.714
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.816

CiteScore 2017: 0.82

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.433
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.603

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 82, Issue 2


Impact of European wild rabbits foraging in different habitat and vegetation types in an insular environment

Vasileios J. Kontsiotis
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Range Sciences, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, School of Forestry and Natural Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 241, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Dimitrios E. Bakaloudis
  • Department of Range Sciences, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, School of Forestry and Natural Environment, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, P.O. Box 241, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Vasilios Liordos
  • Department of Forestry and Management of Natural Environment, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Institute of Technology, P.O. Box 172, Drama 66100, Greece
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-04-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2016-0132


European wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are prolific herbivores, affecting natural and agricultural ecosystems. We installed 10 experimental units, each consisting of two fenced plots, one excluding all herbivores and one allowing rabbit access only, to estimate the impact of rabbit grazing in three vegetation types occurring in two dominant habitat types on Lemnos Island, Greece. Plant productivity was significantly higher in barley crops than on both fallow land and Mediterranean scrublands. Rabbit grazing caused significant reduction of productivity in barley crops and Mediterranean scrublands, but not on fallow land. Selective feeding and seasonal food availability may have shaped patterns of rabbit impact.

Keywords: agricultural crops; Mediterranean scrubland; Oryctolagus cuniculus; vegetation damage; vertebrate pest


  • Abbott, I., N. Marchant and R. Cranfield. 2000. Long-term change in the floristic composition and vegetation structure of Carnac Island, Western Australia. J. Biogeogr. 27: 333–346.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Barrio, I.C., C.G. Bueno and F.S. Tortosa. 2010. Alternative food and rabbit damage in vineyards of southern Spain. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 138: 51–54.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Bell, A.C., P.M. Byrne and S. Watson. 1998. The effect of rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) grazing damage on the growth and yield of winter cereals. Ann. Appl. Biol. 133: 431–442.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Bergstrom, D.M., A. Lucieer, K. Kiefer, J. Wasley, L. Belbin, T.K. Pedersen and S.L. Chown. 2009. Indirect effects of invasive species removal devastate World Heritage Island. J. Appl. Ecol. 46: 73–81.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Chapuis, J.-L., Y. Frenot and M. Lebouvier. 2004. Recovery of native plant communities after eradication of rabbits from the subantarctic Kerguelen Islands, and influence of climate change. Biol. Conserv. 117: 167–179.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Cook, W.C. and J.L. Stubbendieck. 1986. Range research: Basic problems and techniques. Society for Range Management, Denver, CO, USA. pp. 317.Google Scholar

  • Copson, G. and J. Whinam. 1998. Response of vegetation on subantarctic Macquarie Island to reduced rabbit grazing. Aust. J. Bot. 46:15–24.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Costin, A.B. and R.M. Moore. 1960. The effects of rabbit grazing on the grasslands of Macquarie Island. J. Ecol. 48: 729–732.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Courchamp, F., J.L. Chapuis and M. Pascal. 2003. Mammal invaders on islands: impact, control and control impact. Biol. Rev. 78: 347–383.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Croft, J.D., P.J.S. Fleming and R. van de Ven. 2002. The impact of rabbits on a grazing system in eastern New South Wales. 1. Ground cover and pastures. Aust. J. Exp. Agr. 42: 909–916.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dendy, J., I.G. McKillop, S. Fox, G. Western and S. Langton. 2004. A field trial to assess the effects of rabbit grazing on spring barley. Ann. Appl. Biol. 145: 77–80.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • ELGA. 2008. Compensation statistical data for 2008. Greek Agricultural Insurance Organization, Athens. <http://www.elga.gr/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=category &id=16&Itemid=103>. Accessed 4 September, 2016.

  • Ferreira, C. and P.C. Alves. 2009. Influence of habitat management on the abundance and diet of wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus) populations in Mediterranean ecosystems. Eur. J. Wildl. Res. 55: 487–496.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Flux, J.E.C. and P.J. Fullagar. 1992. World distribution of the rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus on islands. Mammal Rev. 22: 151–205.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gooding, C.D. 1955. Rabbit damage to pasture. J. Agric. West. Aust. 4: 753–755.Google Scholar

  • Guerrero-Casado, J., A.J. Carpio, L.M. Prada and F.S. Tortosa. 2015. The role of rabbit density and the diversity of weeds in the development of cover crops in olive groves. Span. J. Agric. Res. 13: 3–e03SC01.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Kontsiotis, V.J., D.E. Bakaloudis and A.C. Tsiompanoudis. 2013a. Key factors determining the seasonal population growth rate of European wild rabbits and their implications for management. Eur. J. Wildl. Res. 59: 495–503.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Kontsiotis, V.J., D.E. Bakaloudis, P. Xofis, N. Konstantaras, N. Petrakis and A.C. Tsiompanoudis. 2013b. Modeling the distribution of wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) on a Mediterranean island. Ecol. Res. 28: 317–325.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kontsiotis, V.J., D.E. Bakaloudis, A.C. Tsiompanoudis and P. Xofis. 2014. Body condition variation of wild rabbit population in the north-east Mediterranean island of Lemnos–Greece. Folia Zool. 63: 87–94.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kontsiotis, V.J., D.E. Bakaloudis, T. Merou and P. Xofis. 2015. Trophic ecology of the European wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus on the Mediterranean island of Lemnos, Greece. Ecol. Res. 30: 683–691.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lees, A.C. and D.J. Bell. 2008. A conservation paradox for the 21st century: the European wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, an invasive alien and an endangered native species. Mammal. Rev. 38: 304–320.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • McManus, T.J. 1979. Seabird Islands No. 72, St Helens Island Tasmania. Corella 3: 52–54.Google Scholar

  • Moreno, S., J.F. Beltrán, I. Cotilla, B. Kuffner, R. Laffite, G. Jordán, J. Ayala, C. Quintero, A. Jiménez, F. Castro, S. Cabezas and R. Villafuerte. 2007. Long-term decline of the European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in south-western Spain. Wildl. Res. 34: 652–658.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Norbury, D.C. and G.L. Norbury. 1996. Short-term effects of rabbit grazing on a degraded short-tussock grassland in central Otago. New Zeal. J. Ecol. 20: 285–288.Google Scholar

  • Pinheiro, J.C. and D.M. Bates. 2000. Mixed-effects models in S and S-plus. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar

  • Priddel, D., N. Carlile and R. Wheeler. 2000. Eradication of European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) from Cabbage Tree Island, NSW, Australia, to protect the breeding habitat of Gould’s petrel (Pterodroma leucoptera leucoptera). Biol. Conserv. 94: 115–125.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Thompson, H.V. and C.M. King. 1994. The European rabbit: the history and biology of a successful colonizer. Oxford University Press, Oxford. pp. 244.Google Scholar

  • Williams, K., I. Pare, B. Coman, J. Burley and M. Braysher. 1995. Managing vertebrate pests: rabbits. Commonwealth of Australia, Australia. pp. 284.Google Scholar

  • Wood, D.H., J.H. Leigh and B.D. Foran. 1987. The ecological and production costs of rabbit grazing. Working Papers of the 8th Australian Vertebrate Pest Conference, Coolangatta. pp. 18–27.Google Scholar

  • Zeevalking, H.J. and L.F.M Fresco. 1977. Rabbit grazing and species diversity in a dune area. Vegetatio 35: 193–196.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Received: 2016-09-07

Accepted: 2017-03-23

Published Online: 2017-04-19

Published in Print: 2018-02-23

Citation Information: Mammalia, Volume 82, Issue 2, Pages 193–196, ISSN (Online) 1864-1547, ISSN (Print) 0025-1461, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2016-0132.

Export Citation

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in