Rural exodus among rabbits – behavioral biology study documents migration of rabbits into cities
It is clear why we as humans are drawn to the cities: We find important resources there, which are rarer in rural areas. European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) seem to be no different, as Dr. Madlen Ziege explains: “Wild rabbits reach high population densities where they find enough food and can build burrows in the near vicinity.” These conditions are ever more likely to exist in big cities like Frankfurt on the Main than in the structurally impoverished agricultural areas of the rural surrounding area.
Urban rabbit populations also show less inbreeding than their rural counterparts, which means they have a higher genetic diversity. “This is due to the fact that population density is higher in the city and that rabbits can mingle a lot better despite barriers like streets. The few rural rabbit colonies live a lot farther apart. This leads to more inbreeding among the rural populations and, finally, to a migration into the cities,” Madlen Ziege says. These results show once more that cities will play an important role as habitats for wild animals in the future.
Link to publication:
Contact: Dr. Madlen Ziege, Phone: 01577/3883101, E-Mail: infoumadlenziegepcom
Image: Rabbit. | Photo: S. Kriesten
Media information: 14-02-2020 / No. 025