New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1997) 21(2): 161- 167

Density of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.) in the Mackenzie Basin, South Island, New Zealand

Research Article
Henrik Moller 1
B. Kay Clapperton 2
David J. Fletcher 3
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. Mathematics Department and Statistics, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand
Abstract: 

The density of rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in the modified tussock grasslands of the Mackenzie Basin, South Island, New Zealand, in August-September 1991 was determined within 26 I-ha quadrats spread over 1000 ha. The area was poisoned with 1080- carrot baits and dead and live rabbits counted. The overall kill rate was 93%. Wide variability in rabbit densities amongst the quadrats was correlated with burrow density, but vegetation was not a significant predictor of rabbit numbers. High density quadrats were not all spatially clumped together. Variation amongst quadrats of 0-43% of rabbits dying underground shows that searching burrows as well as the surface will provide the most accurate rabbit densities. Poisoning efficacy was greater than or equal to 90% in 77% of the quadrats, but two low- density quadrats recorded kill rates