Do exotic vertebrates structure the biota of Australia? An experimental test in New South Wales

Adrian Davey, A Sinclair, C Arthur, Charles KREBS, A. E. Newsome, David Hik, R. Molsher, K. Allcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


From 1993 to 2001, we conducted a series of experiments in a mixed grassland–woodland system in central New South Wales (NSW) to quantify the interactions between red foxes and their prey and competitors. Foxes were removed from two areas around the perimeter of Lake Burrendong, and data were collected from these areas and a nearby untreated area before, during, and after the period of fox control. The arrival of rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD) in 1996 provided an opportunity to examine the interactive effects of controlling foxes and rabbits. In this landscape, typical of central NSW, (a) the fox population was not affected by a large reduction in the abundance of rabbits, or vice versa; (b) the cat population declined in areas where foxes were removed after the large RHD-induced reduction in rabbit numbers, but there was no consistent response to the removal of foxes; (c) the abundance of some macropod species increased in response only to the combined removal of rabbits and foxes; (d) there were no consistent changes in the abundances of bird species in response to the removal of either foxes or rabbits, but there were clear habitat differences in bird species richness; and (e) there was likely to be an increase in woody plant species after the large reduction in rabbit populations by RHD. We conclude that (a) long-term field experiments (more than 3 years) are required to quantify the indirect consequences of controlling foxes and rabbits, and (b) single manipulations, such as fox control or rabbit control, are not necessarily sufficient for the conservation of remnant woodland communities in southeastern Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1008
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Do exotic vertebrates structure the biota of Australia? An experimental test in New South Wales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this