1162nd General Monthly Meeting

"An Australian ecological blind-spot: rabbit impact on native
plants and animals"

Dr Brian Cooke, Invasive Animals CRC, University of Canberra

Wednesday 2 July 2008, 6.30 for 7 pm
Conference Room 1, Darlington Centre, City Road

ABSTRACT

Introduced wild rabbits have long been regarded as a major almost insoluble economic problem in Australia, requiring the unusual step of introducing successive biological control agents, such as myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhage disease. Despite this, however, the rabbits' impact on native vegetation has been poorly understood, though CSIRO scientists have worked on rabbits for over 50 years. It is now clear that rabbits compete directly with many of our native animals such as the grey and red kangaroos and common wombats. It takes less than 1 rabbit per hectare to completely inhibit regeneration of many tree and shrub species in natural woodlands.

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

Dr Brian Cooke has worked on the management of pest animals for over 40 years. Much of this work was done within the Animal and Plant Control Commission in South Australia before he transferred to the CSIRO. He has also spent time working in other environments including the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen Islands and 2 years in the equatorial Islands. He now works with the Invasive Animals CRC in the University of Canberra, where he is carrying out an industry-funded strategic review of the long-term prospects of rabbit haemorrhagic disease as a biological control agent.

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