Cinco siglos de invasión del conejo europeo (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.) en ecosistemas árido-secos de Tenerife

  1. Juana María González Mancebo 1
  2. Jonay Jesús Cubas Díaz 1
  3. Víctor Bello Rodríguez 1
  4. Marcelino J. del Arco Aguilar 1
  1. 1 Universidad de La Laguna
    info

    Universidad de La Laguna

    San Cristobal de La Laguna, España

    GRID grid.10041.34

Journal:
Vieraea: Folia Scientarum Biologicarum Canariensium

ISSN: 0210-945X

Year of publication: 2019

Issue: 46

Pages: 597-624

Type: Article

Export: RIS

Abstract

The effects of invasive species in oceanic islands have been widely studied worldwide. Nevertheless, we still have little knowledge about their past influence on the Canary Islands ecosystems, and how they continue disturbing them in our days. This is clear in the case of the European rabbit,a scarcely visible species that mainly consumes juvenile plants. Thus, its effect is especially recognized by the absence of species more than from damaged individual plants. Here we study the impact of rabbits on the vascular plants in 85 plots distributed over three arid or dry ecosystems of Tenerife: Euphorbia scrub and shrubland, pine forest, and summit broom shrubland. A circular transect 500 m long has been established in each locality, analyzing rabbit density, rabbit damage, and population structure of some dominant or restricted species. Results show that the current floristic composition of these ecosystems is highly determined by the presence of the European rabbit, and that restoration tasks and rabbit population control are needed in order to halt their loss in diversity. It was observed that rabbits preferentially eat endemic flora, and that there is a lesser proportion of palatable species in the low altitude localities that have been exposed longer.