[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wild rabbit scarcity in Spain is a serious problem due to its economic and ecological value; thus, management techniques to
reinforce their populations are being implemented. Translocations are traditionally applied but high short-term mortality
by predation makes them unsuccessful and increases their biological cost. An alternative to translocation would be to strengthen
local reduced populations through habitat management (building artificial warrens and increasing food availability). Here,
we test this method to determine its efficiency as an exportable protocol to recover wild rabbit populations. We compare two
areas with and without artificial warrens and increased food availability and assess relative rabbit abundance by means of
pellet counts. Results show that, during the 2years following habitat management, rabbit numbers increased in the experimental
plot in contrast to the not managed one, suggesting its effectiveness to reinforce low-density rabbit populations.
European Journal of Wildlife Research 04/2012; 54(3):449-453. · 1.36 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The influence of short- and long-term (cohort) effects of climate and density on the life-histories of ungulates in temperate regions may vary with latitude, habitat, and management practices, but the life-histories of ungulates in the Mediterranean region are less well known. This study examined the short- and long-term effects of rainfall and absolute density on hinds in two of the southernmost populations of red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus) in Europe. One population received supplementary forage. Unlike more northerly latitudes, where red deer hinds lose body mass in winter as a result of adverse weather, in the Spanish populations, hinds did not lose body mass. Hinds in the population that received supplementary forage were heavier and more likely to become pregnant than were the hinds in the unsupplemented population. The likelihood of pregnancy occurring was strongly influenced by hind body mass; the proportion of yearlings that became pregnant was consequently lower in the unsupplemented population than in the population that received supplementary forage. Cohort effects on hind body mass (negative for density and positive for rainfall at birth) and on the probability of pregnancy (negative for density at birth) were apparent only in the unsupplemented population, which implies that supplemental feeding may partially compensate for negative density-dependent factors during early growth, and that supplemented deer hinds may experience reduced selection pressures. These results reflect the particular seasonal variation in the abundance and quality of food in Mediterranean habitats. The delayed effects of climate and density at birth on adult hind body mass and the prevalence of pregnancy probably affects population dynamics and constitutes a mechanism by which cohort effects affect the population dynamics in Iberian red deer. The management of Iberian red deer populations should take into account cohort effects and supplemental feeding practices, which can buffer density- and climate-dependent effects and reduce natural selection pressures.