Box Jelly fish
Perfectly Adapted to Australia?
The history of the rabbit in Australia demonstrates that people can be really stupid. In 1859, a farmer introduced 24 grey rabbits to remind him of home. At the time, the man wrote:
By 1900, the rabbits had reached plague proportions and were causing extreme environmental damage. They ring-barked trees, ate fields to oblivion and caused massive soil erosion by digging burrows.
Today, that stupidity continues to rein. In the aim of eliminating rabbits and preserving native species, environmentalists have actually increased the number of rabbits and caused the extinction of native species. Because the rabbit is a fast breeder, it can quickly fill voids when the ecosystem is unbalanced. However, the fast breeding uses a lot of excess energy and results in it being targeted by predators such as goannas, foxes, cats, quolls, birds of prey, and dingoes. As predator numbers increase, a new balance is formed.
Unfortunately, when the rabbit is rapidly removed by poisoning or viral regimes, the pedators that were feeding upon them need to find an alternative food source. Small marsupials, such as bilbies, are then hunted into extinction before the predators also see their numbers decline as well.
Ironically, this replicates the situation in the late 19th century that rabbits found so appealing. When the rabbits re-enter the ecosystem a short time later, they find that there are relatively few predators. In a nutshell, trying to recreate a pre-1788 ecosystem merely results in rabbits once more migrating into an ecosystem not prepared for their presence. Biodiversity is actually decreased by trying to eliminate rabbits.
There are two great feats of "science" that have been used to temporarily eliminate rabbits from various ecosystems. The first is the CSIRO's myxomatosis virus. When it was first introduced in the 1950s, the virus killed up to 99 per cent of rabbits without infecting any other species. On the downside, it was a short-sighted solution that pushed the ecosystem into imbalance. In less than 50 years, the kill rate has dropped to 50 per cent and within another 50 years almost all rabbits will be immune. Basically, all the virus did was interfere with the ecosystem's adaptation to the presence of rabbits. Unfortunately, it interfered in a way that was helpful for rabbits. Because rabbits are very fast breeders, a cycle of population explosions followed by population collapses has been helpful for the rabbits moving towards complete domination of the ecosystem.
The second great feat of "science" is 1080 poison. 1080 is a synthetically produced substance that is a replication of a naturally occurring poison found in plant species such as poison bush. Although native animals can eat the foliage, seeds and flowers of the plants with no ill effect, it is deadly on the feral animals that have not evolved alongside it.
1080 is a slightly better control method than a virus because as well as rabbits being killed, poisons can be made for cats and foxes as well. In this way, both predators and rabbits can be removed. Nevertheless, it is still results in a shock to the ecosystem and only temporarily removes the ferals until more migrate in to take their place. Furthermore, not all native animals have been exposed to poison bush thus 1080 can kill native animals as well.
Contrary to stereotypes, the rabbit isn't a great competitor and is not ideally suited to Australian conditions. Unlike marsupials, it isn't a great conserver of energy, it can't control its breeding to adapt to drought conditions, it isn't able to eat the diversity of food as can competitors like the bilby, and it is not as mobile through potted terrain as are hoping marsupials. On Kangaroo Island, goannas have actually eaten them to extinction.
It's only real advantage is that it is a fast breeder so can quickly fill voids when the ecosystem is in a state of imbalance or predators are low in numbers. It is just a shame that by trying to help the native animals, or protect lambs on sheep farms, humans are actually helping rabbits. If humans wouldn't interfere, the rabbit would probably eventually go extinct in Australia just as it has gone extinct on Kangaroo Island and is in danger of extinction in many parts of the world.