Evaluation of the relation between the abundance of rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the postfire forest treatment

This is the summary of the presentation conducted in the VI Encounter of students of Sant Llorenš del Munt i l'Obac (10 of November of 2005) by └lex Rollan, Albert Tintˇ and Joan Real, members of the Equip de Biologia de la Conservaciˇ - └liga Perdiguera of the Departament de Biologia Animal of the Universitat de Barcelona.

The rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a key prey species in the Mediterranean ecosystems, as well as one of the main cinegetic species of smaller hunting. In the last decades, the population of rabbit of the Natural Park Sant Llorenš de Munt i l'Obac (province of Barcelona), in special in the high basin of the Ripoll river, has undergone a great declivity related to changes of habitat, diseases and a bad cinegetic management. The objective of the present work is the study of the evolution of the populations of this species after the forest fire of 2003 and its answer according to the different post-fire forest management.

For this reason, in first stage of the study were settled down a total of 41 parcels of study of 100 ms x 100 ms of 5 different types, where in each case a sampling of the abundance of rabbit (between 15th and 305h of June of 2005) and the structure of the vegetation was made, and parameters like the altitude, the slope, the direction and the main litology were written down. The obtained preliminary results of the sampling of parcels with branches burned in situ (n=19) seem to indicate that the rabbit prefers opened habitats, without burned branches and with little cover of vegetation of 0-0,5 m.

The second phase of the study (autumn 2005) will imply the creation of parcels where the burned branches will be retired and its abundance of rabbit with the one of other parcels nonmanaged (with branches in situ) will be compared, as well as with other types of forest management postfire (parcels with trees without cutting, denuded zones) and nonburned parcels. The final mission is to know the evolution and the state of the populations of rabbit in a burned area and to have information about the forest practices more suitable for the improvement of the rabbit populations after a forest fire, as well as to establish demonstrative parcels of sustainable management of these populations.