Ecological implications: nature capital loss and the spread of invasive European wild rabbit in Mexico


  • Wiktor Halecki Nano-Tech Environmental Polska sp. Z o.o. al. Mickiewicza 21C/2 31-120 Kraków, Poland
  • Nuria Aide López-Hernández 2National Center for Disciplinary Research in the Relationship between Water, Soil, Plant, and Atmosphere (CENID RASPA) of the National Institute of Agricultural and Livestock Forestry Research, Km. 6.5 margen derecha Canal de Sacramento, C.P. 35079, Gómez Palacio, Durango, Mexico



climate change, ecological paradox, nature conservation, projected distribution


Ecological integrity, a pivotal concept, characterizes the capacity of an ecosystem to perpetuate an interwoven, sustainable, and adaptable ecological system that encompasses the entire spectrum of elements and processes one would anticipate in the natural backdrop of a given region. This article also sheds light on the status of the wild European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.), which faces endangerment in its native habitat. Conversely, in Mexico, it has proven highly invasive. The presence of European rabbits in Mexico can lead to direct competition with native herbivores, potentially reducing their populations and altering the species composition of plants. Efforts to mitigate the ecological implications of invasive European rabbits in Mexico may include the implementation of control and eradication measures, the restoration of native habitats, and increased public awareness and education about the impact of invasive species on ecosystems. These actions are essential to safeguard Mexico's biodiversity and Natural Capital Index. A practical recommendation in this research is to fortify the protection ranges of isolated priority areas. O. cuniculus distribution may increase in the future. Eliminating rabbits from certain sites can generate more problems than it solves.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Aguirre-Muñoz, A., Croll, D.A., Donlan, C.J., Henry, R.W., Hermosillo, M.A., Howald, G.R., Keitt, B.S., Luna-Mendoza, L., Rodríguez-Malagón, M., Salas-Flores, L.M., Samaniego-Herrera, A., Sanchez-Pacheco, J.A., Sheppard, J., Tershy, B.R., Toro-Benito, J., Wolf, S., Wood, B. (2008). High-impact conservation: invasive mammal eradications from the islands of western Mexico. AMBIO: a Journal of the Human Environment, 37(2), 101–107.[101:hcimef];2

Alves, J.M., Carneiro, M., Day, J.P., Welch, J.J., Duckworth, J.A., Cox, T.E., Letnic, M., Strive, T., Ferrand, N., Jiggins, F.M. (2022). A single introduction of wild rabbits triggered the biological invasion of Australia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(35), e2122734119.

Anderson, B.J., Akçakaya, H.R., Araújo, M.B., Fordham, D.A., Martinez-Meyer, E., Thuiller, W., Brook, B.W. (2009). Dynamics of range margins for metapopulations under climate change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1661), 1415–1420.

Arenas-Navarro, M., Escalante, T., Miguel-Talonia, C., Silva-Galicia, A., Téllez-Valdés, O. (2023). Areas of endemism and environmental heterogeneity: a case study in Mexican legumes. Australian Systematic Botany, 36(1), 21–37.

Bello-Rodriguez, V.; Mateo, R.G.; Pellissier, L.; Cubas, J.; Cooke, B.; Gonzalez-Mancebo, J.M. (2021). Forecast increase in invasive rabbit spread into ecosystems of an oceanic island (Tenerife) under climate change. Ecological Applications, 31, e02206

Burgin, C.J., Wilson, D.E., Mittermeier, R.A., Rylands, A.B., Lacher, T.E., Sechrest, W. (2020). Illustrated Checklist of the Mammals of the World. Part 1: Monotremata to Rodentia. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, p. 280. ISBN 978-84-16728-34-3

Cabezas-Díaz, S., Lozano, J., Virgós, E. (2009). The declines of the wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) in Spain: redirecting conservation efforts. Handbook of Nature Conservation: global, environmental and economic issues. Publisher: NOVA Science Publishers, Inc. p. 283–310.

Calderón-Contreras, R., White, C.S. (2020). Access as the means for understanding social-ecological resilience: bridging analytical frameworks. Society and Natural Resources, 33(2), 205–223.

Cubas, J., Kluge, J., Bello-Rodriguez, V., del Arco, M.J., Cooke, B., González-Mancebo, J.M. (2021). Can habitat type predict the abundance of the European rabbits on oceanic islands? Community Ecology, 22(1), 93–105.

de Guevara, O.S.L., Perez-Rivero, J.J., Perez-Martinez, M., Flores-Perez, F.I., Romero-Callejas, E. (2019). Eimeria spp. in broiler rabbit: seasonal prevalence in the backyard farms of the State of Mexico. Veterinaria Italiana, 55(2), 183–187.

Delibes-Mateos, M., Rödel, H.G., Rouco, C., Alves, P.C., Carneiro, M., Villafuerte, R. (2022). European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus (Linnaeus, 1758). In: Handbook of the Mammals of Europe (p. 1–39). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Farias, V. (2004). Spatio-temporal ecology and habitat selection of the critically endangered tropical hare (Lepus flavigularis) in Oaxaca, Mexico. University of Massachusetts Amherst: Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152694.

Flores-Armillas, V.H., López-Medellín, X., García Barrios, R., MacGregor-Fors, I., Valenzuela-Galván, D. (2020). Landscape features associated with damage to maize (Zea mays) fields in Central México: a comparison of wind and wildlife damage. Agriculture, 10(10), 460.

Galicia-Gallardo, A.P., Ceccon, E., Castillo, A., González-Esquivel, C. E. (2023). An Integrated Assessment of Social-ecological Resilience in Me´Phaa Indigenous Communities in Southern Mexico. Human Ecology, 51(1), 151–164.

García-Frapolli, E., Bonilla-Moheno, M., Ramos-Fernández, G. (2013). Community Conservation in Punta Laguna: A Case of Adaptive Ecotourism Management. In: L. Porter-Bolland, I. Ruiz-Mallén, C. Camacho-Benavides, S.R. McCandless (eds.), Community Action for Conservation. Springer New York. p. 101–113.

García Jácome, L.G., García-Frapolli, E., Moheno, M.B., Rivera, C.R., Benítez, M., Ramos-Fernández, G. (2020). Multiple resource use strategies confer resilience to the socio-ecosystem in a protected area in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, Sec. Agroecology and Ecosystem Services, 4, 2020.

Godínez-Gómez, O., Schank, C., Mas, J.F., Mendoza, E. (2020). An integrative analysis of threats affecting protected areas in a biodiversity stronghold in Southeast Mexico. Global Ecology and Conservation, 24, e01297.

Hudson, R., Rodríguez-Martínez, L., Distel, H., Cordero, C., Altbäcker, V., Martínez-Gómez, M. (2005). A comparison between vegetation and diet records from the wet and dry season in the cottontail rabbit Sylvilagus floridanus at Ixtacuixtla, central Mexico. Acta Theriologica, 50(3), 377–389.

Imáz-Lamadrid, M.A., Ivanova-Boncheva, A., Flores-López, M.Z., Cortes-Martinez, M.Y. (2023). Participative Policy Design to Manage Droughts and Floods in an Arid Region under Climate Change Uncertainty: The Case of Baja California Sur, Mexico. Sustainability, 15(18), 13547.

Kerr, P.J., Hall, R.N., Strive, T. (2021). Viruses for landscape-scale therapy: Biological control of rabbits in Australia. Viruses as Therapeutics, 2225, 1–23.

La Sala, L.F., Burgos, J.M., Scorolli, A.L., VanderWaal, K., Zalba, S.M. (2021). Trojan hosts: the menace of invasive vertebrates as vectors of pathogens in the Southern Cone of South America. Biological Invasions, 23(7), 2063–2076.

Lees, A.C., Bell, D.J. (2008). A conservation paradox for the 21st century: the European wild rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus, an invasive alien and an endangered native species. Mammal Review, 38(4), 304–320.

Lorenzo, C., Álvarez-Castañeda, S.T., Vázquez, J. (2011). Conservation status of the threatened, insular San Jose brush rabbit (Sylvilagus mansuetus). Western North American Naturalist, 71(1), 10–16.

Marín-García, P.J., Llobat, L. (2021). What are the keys to the adaptive success of European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in the Iberian peninsula? Animals, 11(8), 2453.

Mora, F. (2019). The use of ecological integrity indicators within the natural capital index framework: The ecological and economic value of the remnant natural capital of México. Journal for Nature Conservation, 47, 77–92.

Ophoven, E. (2006). Zwierzęta łowne. Wydawnictwo Muza. ISBN 83-7319-762-1 [In Polish]

Parada-Díaz, J., Cubas, J., del Arco Aguilar, M.J., López, Á.F., González-Mancebo, J.M. (2022). Changing the landscape: Short-term disruption of recruitment, height growth and flowering of endemic plants on macaronesian heathlands by invasive alien rabbits. Biological Conservation, 272, 109596.

R Core Team, (2022). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL

Reichholf, J. (1996). Ssaki. Leksykon przyrodniczy. Henryk Garbarczyk i Eligiusz Nowakowski. Warszawa: GeoCenter International. ISBN 83-86146-48-6 [In Polish]

Rizo-Aguilar, A., Guerrero, J.A., Montoya-Lara, A.M., Valdespino, C. (2014). Physiological stress in volcano rabbit Romerolagus diazi populations inhabiting contrasting zones at the Corredor Biologico Chichinautzin, Mexico. Mammalian Biology, 79(6), 357–361.

Robson, J.P. (2007). Local approaches to biodiversity conservation: lessons from Oaxaca, southern Mexico. International Journal of Sustainable Development, 10(3), 267–286.

Schai-Braun, S., Hackländer K. (2016). Family Leporidae (Hares and Rabbits). In: D.E. Wilson, T.E. Lacher, Jr. R.A. Mittermeier (eds.). Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Part 6: Lagomorphs and Rodents I. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, p. 126–127. ISBN 978-84-941892-3-4.

Somerville, A.D., Sugiyama, N. (2021). Why were New World rabbits not domesticated? Animal Frontiers, 11(3), 62–68.

Tate, G.J., Marco, H.G. (2014). Adaptations to life on arid islands of South Africa: renal performance and phenotypic plasticity in the European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. African Zoology, 49(2), 203–212.

Wilson D.E., Reeder D.M. (eds.) (2005). Species: Oryctolagus cuniculus. In: Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (ed. 3), [on-line]. Johns Hopkins University Press [Access 2020-10-15]

Zagorodniuk, I. (2023). The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Ukraine: 140 years from introduction to decline. Theriologia Ukrainica, 24, 126–149.




How to Cite

Halecki, W., & López-Hernández, N. A. (2023). Ecological implications: nature capital loss and the spread of invasive European wild rabbit in Mexico. Annales Universitatis Paedagogicae Cracoviensis Studia Naturae, 8(1).