An individual-based model of rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease in European wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

John E. Fa, Colin M. Sharples, Diana J. Bell, Don DeAngelis

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We developed an individual-based model of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (RVHD) for European wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus L.), representing up to 1000 rabbits in four hectares. Model output for productivity and recruitment matched published values. The disease was density-dependent and virulence affected outcome. Strains that caused death after several days produced greater overall mortality than strains in which rabbits either died or recovered very quickly. Disease effect also depended on time of year. We also elaborated a larger scale model representing 25 km2 and 100,000+ rabbits, split into a number of grid-squares. This was a more traditional model that did not represent individual rabbits, but employed a system of dynamic equations for each grid-square. Disease spread depended on probability of transmission between neighboring grid-squares. Potential recovery from a major population crash caused by the disease relied on disease virulence and frequency of recurrence. The model's dependence on probability of disease transmission between grid-squares suggests the way that the model represents the spatial distribution of the population affects simulation. Although data on RVHD in Europe are lacking, our models provide a basis for describing the disease in realistic detail and for assessing influence of various social and spatial factors on spread.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-138
Number of pages18
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2001

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