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Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.) in coastal dune grasslands
Somers, N.; Bossuyt, B.; Hoffmann, M.; Lens, L. (2005). Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.) in coastal dune grasslands, in: Herrier, J.-L. et al. (Ed.) (2005). Proceedings 'Dunes and Estuaries 2005': International Conference on nature restoration practices in European coastal habitats, Koksijde, Belgium 19-23 September 2005. VLIZ Special Publication, 19: pp. 661-663
In: Herrier, J.-L. et al. (Ed.) (2005). Proceedings 'Dunes and Estuaries 2005': International Conference on nature restoration practices in European coastal habitats, Koksijde, Belgium 19-23 September 2005. VLIZ Special Publication, 19. Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ): Oostende. XIV, 685 pp., more
In: VLIZ Special Publication. Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ): Oostende. ISSN 1377-0950, more

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Document type: Conference paper

Keywords
    Coastal dune soils; Dunes; Grassland; Grazing; Herbivores; Oryctolagus cuniculus L.; ANE, Belgium, IJzer R., Nieuwpoort [gazetteer]; ANE, Belgium, Koksijde, Doornpanne [gazetteer]; Marine

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Abstract
    We describe a field experiment for examining the impact of wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.) on the vegetation in two Flemish coastal dune grasslands. When numerous, rabbits had a major impact on the vegetation. This impact can be considered positive in the case of the studied grasslands, as evidenced by a decreasing abundance by dominant grass species and a declining species richness. The decrease of the number of rabbits, due to VHS, may hence negatively affect dune grassland species richness. Introducing large herbivores can be part of the solution for preserving the dune grasslands, and this introduction may even have positive effects on rabbit populations through feeding facilitation.

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