Claim: Rabbits will be impacted by climate change

Australian Rabbit

“Oryctolagus cuniculus Tasmania 2” by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

PLOS ONE has published a study which suggests two thirds of rabbit species will be severely affected by climate change. The authors of the study think climate change will force rabbits to migrate towards the poles, or to higher altitudes, and that some species will suffer significant range declines.

The abstract of the study;

Climate change during the past five decades has impacted significantly on natural ecosystems, and the rate of current climate change is of great concern among conservation biologists. Species Distribution Models (SDMs) have been used widely to project changes in species’ bioclimatic envelopes under future climate scenarios. Here, we aimed to advance this technique by assessing future changes in the bioclimatic envelopes of an entire mammalian order, the Lagomorpha, using a novel framework for model validation based jointly on subjective expert evaluation and objective model evaluation statistics. SDMs were built using climatic, topographical, and habitat variables for all 87 lagomorph species under past and current climate scenarios. Expert evaluation and Kappa values were used to validate past and current models and only those deemed ‘modellable’ within our framework were projected under future climate scenarios (58 species).

Phylogenetically-controlled regressions were used to test whether species traits correlated with predicted responses to climate change. Climate change is likely to impact more than two-thirds of lagomorph species, with leporids (rabbits, hares, and jackrabbits) likely to undertake poleward shifts with little overall change in range extent, whilst pikas are likely to show extreme shifts to higher altitudes associated with marked range declines, including the likely extinction of Kozlov’s Pika (Ochotona koslowi). Smaller-bodied species were more likely to exhibit range contractions and elevational increases, but showing little poleward movement, and fecund species were more likely to shift latitudinally and elevationally. Our results suggest that species traits may be important indicators of future climate change and we believe multi-species approaches, as demonstrated here, are likely to lead to more effective mitigation measures and conservation management. We strongly advocate studies minimising data gaps in our knowledge of the Order, specifically collecting more specimens for biodiversity archives and targeting data deficient geographic regions.

More information: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122267

The biggest issue I have with this study is, it doesn’t appear to make any serious allowance for adaption.

The main study includes an acknowledgement that adaptability might play a role – … If species can broaden their occupied bioclimatic niche through trait plasticity, for example, altering their diel patterns of activity, then they may be less susceptible to future change ….

However, it is futile, in my opinion, to attempt to draw conclusions about future range, from a model which appears to treat highly adaptable species as static entities. Even if the global climate changes as radically as alarmists predict, rabbits which are subject to environmental stress won’t stay within their current ecological niches, they will adapt to take advantage of new opportunities.

In less than a century, rabbits introduced from temperate England infested the blistering hot Australian outback, to the point that they became a major economic threat to Australian farmers.

The introduced rabbits, in just a few years, adapted from an average annual temperature of around 40F (10c), to an average annual temperature of around 70F+ (20c+).

Even biological warfare has failed to contain the rabbit plague. Australia runs one of the most advanced biological warfare laboratories in the world, dedicated to finding new rabbit specific plagues, to control numbers. The research is ongoing, because nothing works for long. When a virulent new disease, or a genetically modified version of an old disease is released, the rabbit population crashes, but within a few years it bounces back, as adaptions for resistance to the new disease spread rapidly through the population.

The reason for this adaptability is that rabbits breed like, er rabbits. Any advantageous mutation can reach the entire population within a few generations. Even when subject to extreme stress, such as artificially weaponised diseases, the entire population is reconstituted from a handful of survivors, faster than Australian scientists can find new ways to kill them. The suggestion that a few degrees of warming would have a significant impact on rabbit populations is ridiculous, in the face of the Australian experience.

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179 thoughts on “Claim: Rabbits will be impacted by climate change

  1. Didn’t they say the same thing about Pikas that turned out to be false? If I’m not mistaken aren’t there desert dwelling rabbits? Maybe they should try selling used cars instead of this crap.

    • Maybe they tried (selling used cars) but then someone told them about climate science. They have been on Easy Street since. 🙂

    • On a recent drive through Arizona desert at night into morning, there were large numbers of rabbits visible munching greens near the roadways. Even the 120+F Phoenix desert doesn’t stop them.
      Max response to genetic selection happens in 30 generations (regardless of species), so for rabbits, I make that about 7 to 15 years, perhaps less. I have raised rabbits for decades and selection for small size and a particular coat took only 5 years.
      While heat can kill caged rabbits, left free range they burrow and stay cool. Water and predation are limiting, not heat. My dad raised rabbits in Iowa snow and California Central Valley (110 F in the shade and there aint no shade… ) My first rabbits were there, about 55 years ago, so I have some experiance at this. Oh, and the wild jackrabbits of the west are even much more heat and dry tollerant than the European species raised as pets and “poultry”… yes, at the county fairs they are classed with the chickens…
      I was out checking the bunny food earlier today. They can eat many kinds of plants and are a hind gut fermenter ruminant. That means they can eat leaves and browse as well as grasses. Though they prefer beans and cabbage or kale family plants. Oh, and hay. They always like hay. They do also chew wood…. The wild radishes and mustards ubiquitous here are just dandy to them.
      No climate is going to slow them down. Food competion between species might cause shifts, as can water, and predation. Not much else…

      • You are correct, water and food are the important requirements. Predation is important for control. rabbits are the natural food of the european buzzard. Breed them to help control.

      • All my life I’ve been told the cockroaches will inherit the earth after mankind has become extinct. I guess it will actually be those “silly wabbits.”

    • > If I’m not mistaken aren’t there desert dwelling rabbits?
      There most certainly are. Many years ago, I barely missed colliding with a jackrabbit that looked to be roughly the size of a German Shepard on the Mojave Desert road connecting TwentyNine Palms with Amboy.

      • The desert rabbits have much longer ears than their cousins elsewhere. I’ve been told those long ears are desert rabbits’ temperature control “radiators”.

  2. Australia is overrun with Rabbits and has been for over 100 years. They were introduced in the 1800s. No need for a fancy model, we have a full continental experiment going on here. Without putting too fine a geographical point on it, the little bastards are everywhere from snowfields to desert.

    • Yep, snowfields, desert AND both dry and humid tropics 🙁
      “Lagomorphs are native on all continents except Antarctica, occurring from sea level to >5,000m and from the equator to 80°N spanning a huge range of environmental conditions.”
      But hang on ….
      “Non-native ranges for the only three invasive lagomorphs, European hare (Lepus europaeus),
      Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) and European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus),
      were not modelled because invasive species are not at equilibrium with the environment and
      their niches cannot be transferred in space and time”. [??]
      “The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and mountain hare (Lepus timidus) have also been
      studied but only in a subset of their range in Australia [19] and Great Britain [20]”.
      So Eurobunny gets left out of the study 🙂

      • Looks like they only studied the European rabbit in 2 places (Australia & Great Britain) where it is a non-native species.

    • Mice, rats, cane toads, cats (Well, cats are very well suited to a and evolved in a dry and warm climate) all introduced, all doing really well and breeding like, errrmm, rabbits in this scorched land we call Australia.

  3. The rabbit community right now as it stands is doing perfectly fine but not for long.. The rabbit tipping point will cause a rabbitgeddon of the kind we as humans have only read in religious scripture.

    • There’s been a few rabbitgeddons. As a kid I recall the nearby UK hillsides appearing snow-covered in July, due to the number of rabbit bones after they were were hit by myxomatosis. decade or so later, all back again. Another event I witnessed was the gassing of the disused gas works site at St Ebbes Oxford, to get rid of them. All the pipes blocked and sealed, gas pumped in. Three days later, hop hop hop ….
      A more interesting study would be why the other members of Lagomorpha manage to survive at all.

    • That is anti-science. It is the undisputed consensus that we will find ourselves up to our asses in alligators.

  4. based jointly on subjective expert evaluation and objective model evaluation statistics.
    Wow. Subjective evaluation AND and an objective model. What could go wrong with that?

  5. I know on thing for certain in my life I have lived or been near four distinct climates, Northern tall grass prairie, short grass prairie, northern forest and the Mojave desert, funny the cottontail rabbit is in all, the one in the hotter climate have larger ears. They seamed to have adopted well to a variety or climates. Oh by the way the jack rabbit occupies the same range excluding the north eastern forest. What kind of moron are getting collage degrees now days and what in the Sam he!! are the looking at?

  6. Just for fun, I looked at the Wikipedia entry for the North American Eastern Cottontail rabbit. Here is what it says. Seems the little guys are doing just fine and spreading.
    “The eastern cottontail can be found in meadows and shrubby areas in the eastern and south-central United States, southern Canada, eastern Mexico, Central America and northernmost South America. It is abundant in Midwest North America, and has been found in New Mexico and Arizona. Its range expanded north as forests were cleared by settlers.[3] Originally, it was not found in New England, but it has been introduced there and now competes for habitat there with the native New England cottontail. It has also been introduced into parts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.[4] In the mid-1960s, the Eastern cottontail was introduced to Cuba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Bahamas, Haiti, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Saint Croix and northern Italy, where it displayed a rapid territorial expansion and increase in population density”

  7. This year they have invaded adelaide hills south australia suburbs in droves, and our backyard as well.
    They thrive all over Australia from hot desert to cold mountains. Do these people actually have a clue what they are talking about!!!

    • I saw news footage from the 50s I think where Australian farmers had built fences to keep out a literal carpet of rabbits.

      • Dr Bill Mollison of Permaculture fame used to be a rabbit catcher. He was paid a 1/4 of a sheep per week and all the rabbits he could catch. He said he could carry 200 traps so that is what he got per day.
        The farms were 6-10,000 acres or more and had rabbit densities of 6000 rabbits per acre. Given that they were a non-native species from a much colder, wetter climate we can assume the genetic endowment stands them in good stead to survive just about anywhere.

  8. Given that rabbits are famous for breeding like … well, like rabbits, it’s going to take an awful lot of climate change to stop ’em. Colour me unworried.

  9. Why don’t the Australians just eat them? Isn’t that how the mega-fauna were wiped out?
    If they don’t want to eat them, why not convert them into dog food and cat food?
    If they haven’t got enough dogs and cats, why not export the dog and cat food?
    (Only partly in jest.)

    • In WW2 my grandpa used to go rabbit hunting to feed my mum and the rest of the family. Hunting rabbits can be surprisingly tricky. Some people use shotguns, but then you’ve got to pick all the pellets out. My grandpa used to use a .22, but hitting a rabbit in the lethal zone with a .22 takes a lot of skill, and if you don’t hit the rabbit in a instant kill spot, it runs off and hides. If you use a more powerful round, such as a 303/22, the rabbit simply explodes.
      I guess you could snare rabbits, but I’ve never had much luck with snares. My grandpa tried to teach me, but I guess its not one of my talents :-).
      Rabbit meat is surprisingly difficult to buy in a shop. A lot of Australians look down on rabbit meat, kind of like the way you would feel about eating rat meat, but roast rabbit can be absolutely delicious.

      • In Australia during the Great Depression of the 1930’s rabbits were called “underground mutton” as many families had to subsist on little more than rabbit meat.
        In the great drought of the very late 1800’s and into the 1900’s whole areas of native Mallees and trees were killed by the rabbits which were by then in plague numbers in Australia. They stripped the bark off the trees to get at the moisture under the bark and dug burrows down and around the tree roots where they stripped the bark off the roots to get at the moisture thereby killing the trees.
        As a boy before the introduction of the Myxo virus I have seen tens of acres of newly emerged crop just being mown down by a huge grey mass of rabbits roaming across the paddocks.
        About 80 kilometres north of where I am located in western Victoria there is a memorial to one of the considerable number of rabbit proof fences, which weren’t, that were erected around the turn of the century to try and hold the rabbit infestations at bay and out of Australia’s productive crop land.
        If climate change forces the rabbit to migrate down into the Great southern Ocean along with foxes, the next to worst predator of Australian native wild life, the feral cat being the most destructive, plus cane toads, mice, rats, European house sparrows, Starlings, Indian mynahs, Black Birds which gardeners hate plus quite number more, there will be great rejoicing across Australia’s rural areas and within wild life organisations.
        All of those above species are introduced species that turned into major pests which has led to the collapse in the populations of some Australian species of birds and small animals.
        Some images of the estimated 600 million Australian plague rabbits before the myxo virus was introduced in 1950, just for those who suggest that we should eat them or kill them for pet food to reduce their numbers.
        http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en-AU&q=australian+rabbit+plagues&gbv=2&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ei=GSUyVfqkB6TOmwXJyoH4Bg&ved=0CB4QsAQ&tbm=isch
        The researchers who came up with that rabbit crap should be confined and condemned to live on rabbit stew, fried rabbit, cooked rabbit, baked rabbit, and rabbit done over as rabbit derivatives until they recant and withdraw such a miserable misleading utterly wrong piece of what today increasingly is being passed off as some sort of pseudo category science.
        I figure it would take them about a week to fortnight maximum to have a serious rethink on their so called research and decide that all the rabbits in the world and thats a hell of a lot, weren’t really worth the trouble .

      • The butcher down the block sells rabbit (etc., etc.). They’ve been in business over a century.
        The current owner (ancestor of the original) knows all too well about conditions back then:
        They are famous for sausage. The father never reveals the old recipe. It is up to the son of each generation to come up with a new recipe. The tradition is both impressive and — if you know your history — amusingly appropriate.
        I’ve seen them make hamburger. Wonderful, fresh cuts go into the grinder, and they don’t do the fat-added thing (burgers are generally ~30% added fat), instead they trim it all off. There is hardly a drop of fat left on the skillet.

      • Humans have been eating rabbits whenever they could catch them for, let’s say, 2 million years. It was probably a lot tougher in the wooden spear days, but we would have found a way.

      • @Patrick: Not true; over-consumption of any meat will lead to protein poisoning. Protein alone does not provide sufficient Calories to survive on, and rabbit is the leanest wild meat to be found; but you can get protein poisoning from trying to subsist on other game muscle meat alone.

      • While death is rare, (My comment was a little tongue-in-cheek) it can happen, when eating lean protien like rabbit (And caribu) for long periods of time. Kidneys will start to shutdown as they fail to process the by-products of that protien, leading to protien poisoning, as you say, to give the condition it’s propper name. But the main issue with rabbit is the lack of fat on the animal and the human body needs fat to survive, or as is refered to a “balanced diet”.

    • Frederick Colbourne
      “Why don’t the Australians just eat them? Isn’t that how the mega-fauna were wiped out?
      The South Sydney Rugby League team is known as the “Rabbitohs” – for just that reason – surviving on rabbits during the depression.
      Frankly, if climate change could drive away those eating my vegetables and the bark off my fruit trees – i would be all for it!
      Cheers

  10. Its all about faulty models similar to the fear mongering that Audubon has been pushing. The Moritz paper these folks touted only had one pika observation. just as many mammals moved downslope as moved upslope. The POcket mouse moved upslope because fires created new chapparal habitat that it prefers, More widespread studies found that 19% of USA pika have been found at lower elevations than historical records reported and lower than models predicted. Climate Horror Stories That Wont Die: The Case of the Pika (Stewart, 2015). http://landscapesandcycles.net/pika-not-endangered-its-fear-mongering-.html

  11. Forget about the rabbits…. take a look at the cockroach, that was introduced too into Australia.
    If you think rabbits are hard to kill, try purging a house infected with roaches!
    OMG, I just admitted to murdering cockroaches. Is PETA now going to team up with the Global Warming idiots?

    • OMG, I just admitted to murdering cockroaches. Is PETA now going to team up with the Global Warming idiots?
      Well, it is a declared war. And the roaches will in in the end, anyway.

    • Thanks berenyi !! These guys were the absolute best! They must had a blast doing all their skits and movies over the years. They never ever get old to me. ( as far as bunnies are concerned ? Tastes like chicken but these days it is hard (if not impossible) to find any. There was a “wild” rabbit problem in our area a few years ago, the solution was to trap them and “euthanize” them but that turned them useless for consumption. Should have been used to help the homeless and or low income families. Our planet is upside down inside out!

  12. Rabbits are herbivores, which means higher CO2 levels have already increased plant growth by roughly 20%, and at 560ppm, there be 50% more plant growth.
    The 0.2C~0.3C of CO2 induced warming since 1900 has also extended extended the duration of yearly edible plant availability and has made winters less severe,
    If anything, fossil fuel impoverished countries have been forced to consume forests for fuel, which has had devasting effects on rabbit habitats.
    What’s up, Doc????

  13. The introduced rabbits, in just a few years, adapted from an average annual temperature of around 40F (10c), to an average annual temperature of around 70F+ (20c+).

    As Australia is one of the fastest changing environments in the world and it will suffer the most from raising temperatures and megadroughts introduced by the global climate change, it is considered very likely (expert evaluation) that lagomorphs will become severely threatened in the southern Australia. We need to act now to save them. More green peas for rabbits!

  14. The authors of this thread’s study were quite successful in their efforts. They were paid to tell a scary story and they did.
    Cottontails on the Osage tall grass prairie have more to eat than the outback bunnies, but their numbers are kept in check by Coyotes, Red tails and boys with .22s. The only times I’ve seen them have a population boom were during the bad drought of the 50’s when the Coyote and hawk populations suffered and again during the 60’s when a local rancher famously took up hunting the ‘yotes from a plane for a time, and suppressed the song dogs for miles around.
    I suppose that we might soon have another local rabbit resurgence, because “they” are putting up those infernal windgens all over the place, so the local raptors are going to be thinned out (but cats kill birds, so it’s ok.)

  15. Rabbits around Canberra (Australia) seem to cope quite well through a seasonal temperature variation of perhaps 50 deg C (-10 in winter to +40 in summer). They are doing VERY well.

    • Cottontails in Minnesota and North Dakota cope with temperatures from 105 to -50 so do the Jack Rabbits. Snowshoe hairs in Minnesota the high 90s to -57. All are doing fine.

  16. If something adapt quickly it’s a rabbit, and with a more greening planet we can expect more of them.
    Besides a rabbit is nice cuisine food.

  17. Sadly for me and the rest of the UK taxpayers we have to fund this sh…
    30 yrs ago now when I was undertaking research for a PhD it was a common joke that the only way to get funding from the NERC was to ensure the words ‘global warming’ was twisted into the project title somehow. Want to study bat reproductive ecology? No money not a chance. But ‘ Changes to bat mating success under global warming scenarios’ ? Loads of money.
    Can we stop laughing now it’s making me cry.
    Oh can I try a meme, can we call all these agw nutters ‘boilers’ please?

    • I have been looking for a name a bit less pejorative than alarmist. I am having the Old One’s luck in this. All I have wound up with is “activist”, which isn’t much better. Is there a good, neutral term that won’t raise their hackles?
      This is a partially serious question.

      • Climate campaigners need a new icon, since the poly bear didn’t pan out. Cute, fluffy bunnies fills the bill nicely.

  18. Don’t these cretins know that the climate is cooling down???? The wee bunnies will be heading to the equator………

  19. Man I wish I could get a government grant why little boys gets dirtier than little girls do to Co2 dives the climate. If I write it do you think they will buy it?
    “Given that rabbits are famous for breeding like … well, like rabbits,…”
    Look at it this way. With the current rabbit population exhaling Co2……

    • The climate kooks are now offering degrees in how to sell their bs. What a great world we live in.

  20. The French have a solution…..See your local Intermarche meat counter. Delicious rabbit everywhere.

  21. Dang you Roberttvd my screen nearly exploded and I sprayed some good beer when I got to the one minute mark, oh well Friday night

  22. Have these people no shame.? Rabbits breed every 5 mins how the hell can they find time to move north or south. We’ve been trying to wipe them out for centuries by eating them, giving them mixi and shooting them. I have to fight them every year along with the wild boar and several species of deer. I wish they would move north.

  23. Rabbits like it warm. At the start of this interglacial the snakes did not reach Ireland before it was cut off by rising seas. The rabbits did not even reach England, they had to be introduced by the Normans.

  24. The scientists here seem to believe that they are studying the response of rabbits to changes in their environment. But, for those with the eyes to see, what we can really learn from this, is how researchers respond to changes in the availability of funding:
    “Politically motivated funding change is likely to impact more than two-thirds of grant applications, with environmental sciences likely to undertake an almost total shift towards an obsession with warmist alarmism, with very little elevation in grasp of reality. Independent thinkers or privately funded scientists are more likely to exhibit range contractions with a significant reduction in the number of things that they are allowed to say or think. Our results suggest that funding changes may lead to the emergence of an entirely new species of researcher, the ignoramus warmista alarmus. Whilst all non-alarmist researchers are destined for extinction.”

  25. Yep, with too much grass around, due to warmer climate and the extra CO2, rabbits get fat, consequently losing desire and physical agility to mate so frequently.

  26. When completed in 1907, the rabbit-proof fence (including all three fences) stretched 2,023 miles (3,256I’m)
    Nice of the Australian government to be so concerned about the welfare of the rabbits that they built the fence to prevent the rabbits wandering North and dying of heat exhaustion.

  27. Here in my rural corner of Eastern England, every year more and more pasture is lost to to the enormous rabbit warrens. There aren’t enough foxes to keep them under control and nobody seems to want to eat them (myself apart). The farmers seem oblivious, and this isn’t a ‘ferretting’ area, ie it’s too genteel. ANYTHING which might control their takeover would be welcome! Due the mild winter, there seem to be more than ever this year…

  28. Here in Oz we have tried shooting, riunning them over, fences across the continent, myxametosis, poisons and you name it. The little furry bastarrds just won’t die out.
    Catastrophic, Anthropogenic Global Warming , go you good thing. Burn that coal!! Burn Baby, Burn!!!

  29. One does love science fiction. Finally, the Inuit can be safely hunting rabbits as their primary food source instead of those seals out on the ocean. But they still will have to be watch out for the polar bears that de-evolve back into the brown bears from whence they originated. Oh, and rabbit pelts won’t require chewing the hide to make soft clothing. Perfect.

    • It was native American practice to cut rabbit pelts into strips, twist the strips making a thick rabbit pelt yarn and then weaving the yarn into blankets. Warm and durable.

  30. >>However, it is futile, in my opinion, to attempt to draw conclusions about future range, from a model which appears to treat highly adaptable species as static entities. <<
    How true! I am old enough to remember the bunkum that was paraded as science during the myxomatosis years. Odd that we are so overrun with rabbits now…

    • I am another Patrick. In New Zealand in the 90’s there was a drive to eradicate rabbits as they are a pest. So local farmers literally blended up a bunch of rabbits infected with myxomatosis and spread it about on paddocks and the like. Worked for a while, but the rabbits came back, in vast numbers. It’s a numbers game! They’re simply too many of them now. Dropping 1080 poison, NZ I think is the only country still using it, which is indescriminate in what eats it and subsequently dies such as native animals.

  31. ..We strongly advocate studies minimising data gaps in our knowledge of the Order, specifically collecting more specimens for biodiversity archives and targeting data deficient geographic regions…..
    WE WANT TO GO WABBIT HUNTING!!

  32. there are so many in my garden I have even thought of buying a gun. In Australia they are thought to be the NO1 reason for species loss. They are a plague and do vast damage , of course the Foxes need something to eat.

  33. I can only assume Australia is not too hot

    “Rabbits can be found in the dessert, in swamps and on the tundra”

  34.  I live in a community in Phoenix surrounded by a golf course with a large bunny population. In the winter, the lows occasionally dip into the 20’s(F), and in July may touch the 120’s(F). Over the years the population appears to be fairly constant, so I’m having difficulty picturing a 1 or 2(C) change having any impact.

  35. I was at my chiropractor the other day and I paid her. Now, it’s always a ritual when I pay her. I write the check, and before I hand it over I hold the check (obviously, because I haven’t handed it over so it’d still be in my hand, wouldn’t it?), and go up and down on the countertop with it as if it’s bouncing (unfortunately one time it genuinely did). And each time my hand landed on the countertop I said “boing.” So it was “boing … boing …boing.” She snatches the check away.
    Well, the rabbit picture in this post reminded me of that. Rabbits jump and bounce around a lot. And, while bouncing and boinging can be the same thing, sometimes they’re not. In fact, with rabbits they’re not the same thing at all. But there’s no denying that rabbits still do an awful lot of boinging. Otherwise we wouldn’t have the phrase, “they breed like rabbits.”
    Now, there’s no denying that climate change research does an awful lot of the rabbit kind of boinging. After all, climate change research ‘breeds like rabbits.’ Which is why it has gone so ludicrously far as to actually research climate change in connection to rabbits. (Perhaps it could go so far as to research climate change impact on Peter Pan?)
    It’s not uncommon for some species to multiply so much so that they overrun their environment. Despite all the boinging they do rabbits haven’t done that. But I suspect climate change research will.
    And, despite all the boinging they do rabbits don’t boing us. However, the policy changes advocated by climate scientists will most definitely boing us (insert another word for ‘boing’ here if you so desire).
    It’s very unfortunate that the taxpayers can’t take the checks paying for this research and go…
    …boing…boing…boing…boing…boing…boing…boing…boing…

  36. In my neck of the woods the rabbit population is tightly controlled by roaming packs of coyotes. One year you won’t see many rabbits but a lot of coyotes and the following year not so many coyotes and a few years later the rabbits are back eventually followed by the coyotes. Funny how global warming works in cycles.

    • This past couple weeks we’ve been seeing tons of pesky wabbits in our back wood lot. Start counting down, in any second the foxes will arrive … that’s funny that a bunch of biologists have to come up with odd speculation that claims that a species, that seems to thrive, absent predators, in environments that range from -20F to +80F, would be impacted by a 1 or 2 degree change in global temperature.

    • Many rabbit species have a 3 year wax/wane population cycle with varying explanations, keyed to food, disease and predators. Rabbits are the universal food for carnivores.

  37. “We’ll all be rooned, said Hanrahan.”… basically some people expect, want and even demand the worst. Anything else causes a major depressive incident. We’ll call them climate scientists, for now.

  38. Of the opinion, that tripe like this is symptomatic of the post-secondary race to the bottom. Undergraduate degrees are becoming increasingly shallow and superficial in intellectual content, leading to post-graduates equally so, leading to intellectually soft tenureds as well. Consequently, finding grad student research topics is apparently devolving into cruising first year high school textbooks looking for a idea the grad student could actually turn into a paper their prof would be able to read. /sarcnotreally

    • My father grew up on a working farm, was in the 101st Airborne, and when WWII ended he worked on his biology degree. He went on to a substantial career in both Department of Interior, in academics, and in our own family business, raising corn, soybeans, and mixed-breed beef, a lot of Angus-Herford crosses which made for a very tasty Porterhouse. By the 1980’s he was concerned about “dumb-ass-city-kids.” He never believed that people from cities were inherently limited, just that many of their connections to real nuts-and-bolts stuff was diminished to the point that they couldn’t make the common sense distinctions that allowed them to sort through a subject matter and link the implications of principle and theory to everyday activity. Subsequently, there is a growing tendency to build Rube Goldberg Machines to deal with problems that are inherently simple, and there are simplistic prescriptions for problems that are inherently complex. I think it’s similar to what Veblen called “trained incapacity,” but maybe more severe, because, as you point out, it’s being “concentrated” by dysfunction in the education hierarchy.

      • Decades ago, I did my undergraduate (in Biology) at a university with a very high standard for theoretical study in the related disciplines. Class sizes were small in the upper years in most disciplines – as few as 8, which meant that in the course of the year, you REALLY got deep into stuff. I stuck around for an additional year taking even more advanced course work before leaving with my degree. I went from there to another college to do work and study (ok, and chase a girlfriend…) in a specialist field, and while there, took even more coursework, since my theoretical basis was very strong but my local knowledge was weak. The second college was strong on local technical relevance, but as it turned out, extremely weak on the theoretical side. I was turning in papers that profs had to work at to wrap their heads around (this college tended to hire its own graduates for faculty, whereas my first school was extremely cosmopolitan). There was no comparison to the theoretical training received from my first school. The second college is IMO, more representative of the milieu of colleges as I’ve understood them over the decades. The research products hitting the streets seem to bear this out.

      • Kudos and thanks to your Father for his service. I am glad you are proud of him, he sounds to be a wonderful common sense man; as many farmers are.

  39. The pudgy rabbits in my yard are endangered by the much smaller, but way toothier and determined long-tailed weasels.

    • We often see foxes, bobcats and coyotes here in the river bluffs. Still plenty of cottontails for all.

  40. Some day soon, global warming will cause us to lose a few letters from the Alphabet or even a few planets from the Solar System. The entire tri-galaxy area is at risk. This was simulated, for the first time, in 12 highly complex climate models. Professor Putz said “Our results show that many aspects of the universe never considered before are, indeed, under threat from rising CO2 levels although more study is required.” Dr. Putz’ team is going to focus on parallel universes next and he further noted that the letter Z could be the first letter to go which, of course, would impact him personally.

    • In similar work, at the North Brooklyn Institute for Perfunctory Thinking, there’s a growing belief that the heat-pressure gradients at the edge of the solar system are coming under more stress due to global warming. This puts the entire space-time continuum at risk of catastrophic failure, and the entire universe could be blown to smithereens. This has lead to an RFP from the NRDC for the development of a state of the art device to accurately measure a smithereen.

    • Bill Illis
      “Some day soon, global warming will cause us to lose a few letters from the Alphabet …”
      :o) Yup. I hear the missin_ le__ers are hidin_ in the dep_hs of the ocean and i_’s a _raves_y we can’_ find _hem.

  41. This rabbit article is a great demonstration that a tragic loss of intellectual abilities is perhaps the worst impact of fanatical belief in the climate consensus.

    • The authors are demonstrating how adaptable life can be. The authors are writing such crap in order to survive in the scientific community. The very existence of this paper actually refutes its findings.

  42. “if species can broaden their occupied bioclimatic niche through trait plasticity, for example, altering their diel patterns of activity, then they may be less susceptible to future change ….”
    How has this type of corporate speaking come to invade what should be a naturalists subject? This selection of words betrays this persons lack of any broad experience of life in general.
    In London I can easily see tropical Rose Ringed Parakeets, They have successfully colonised in a place that is nothing like there natural home. But in London there is food and relative protection from the elements. I have also seen turtles sunbathing in a London park. Living wild in the UK we have Tasmanian Wallabies, Chinese Mitten Crabs, American Signal Cray Fish, South American Coypu, American Grey Squirrel, two separate colonies of scorpion and I haven’t included the extraordinary range of plants and trees from all continents and climates.
    How on Earth does one distinguish between a natural movement of species when any such observation is surely swamped by the huge human assisted movement of all varieties of flora and fauna?

  43. Rabbits are delicious They taste much better than cat. They look the same when skinned but don’t be fooled

    • I asked my Grandmother why the butcher’s shop had rabbits hanging up and they still had their ears on. She replied that butchers were required to leave the ears on so that customers could be certain they weren’t being sold cat. Croydon round about 1940.

    • Rabbit does provide a good meal. Seems a little tastier than baby seals, polar bear cubs, bald eagles and condors, neighborhood dogs and house cats.

  44. Claim: Rabbits will be impacted by climate change
    First, all of us will be impacted by a changing climate. Heck, most of us are impacted by annual seasonal changes. Even a quick change from sunny to rain can be impactful. Geez.
    Were those rabbits impacted by the changing climate from 1850 to 1950, or are they only being impacted by “Climate change during the past five decades…”?
    How, exactly, does that work?

  45. Of course, their starting assumption that we have been warming for 50 years, begs that it be mentioned that we were cooling 50 years ago, only warmed really from 1978 to 1988 and have not warmed significantly since 1988, with mild to active cooling since 2002. So, how can anything their warming climate models predict have anything to do with the real world? They simply cannot.
    Also, their ingenuous idea that species behavior or patterns can predict future climate changes makes mammals clairvoyant, which they are not. Species are reactive, not proactive, a real dumb idea for someone who pretends to be doing useful”research.”
    Another exercise in wasted time and money. Sigh.

    • Not really higley7.
      Out my window, right now, I see an environmentalist replacing the image on a bill board of a Polar Bear with a rabbit.
      Oh, wait – that’s Josh working on his next cartoon!
      Never mind.
      LOL

    • Actually rabbits are pro-actively pre-adapting to climate change. Utilizing techniques similar to the ones developed by Mario Capecchi, to turn genes on and off in mice, the Rabbits are able to pre-adapt to be ready for future changes. What many of us don’t know is that there will be many rabbit representatives at the upcoming conference in Paris, they need to know the exact steps taken to battle AGW so that their gene modification regimen can be perfectly tuned to the future. They will also be discussing their plans for total world domination, which involves the development of an opposing thumb, (toe), and extensive firearms training to combat potential predators.
      Yes, AGW will lead to total world domination by rabbits

      • Mark,
        Worse yet, the cockroaches and rabbits are in cahoots
        I, for one, welcome our new Furry and Scurry Overlords.

      • O.M.G. I’m so startled right now.
        I don’t want my children’s children to be enslaved by their rabbit overlords.
        Why do they not tell you about this in National Geographic?

  46. This is supposed to be bad news?
    I’m from New Zealand. As far as we are concerned, “impacted” doesn’t go far enough. Tell us climate change will exterminate the little pests and we’ll all celebrate.

  47. The study shows how money turns scientists into prostitutes.
    Food supply and predators, not temperature drives populations. All species except post industrial humans turn excess food into reproduction.
    A few degrees temperature change over many decades will have no effect on animals able to cope with much larger temperature changes over a matter of hours.
    The fawning over climate change shows the effects of dangling grant money over the desired conclusion.

  48. I see a Josh cartoon. Scientists in white lab coats standing in front of Monty Hall being asked to choose one of three doors. Uncle Sam holding a bag of money over one of the doors.

  49. Actually rabbits invaded Australia in the distant past. Being very adaptive animals, they responded to the occasional droughts – sometimes 10 years long – by developing pouches to keep the young rabbits in until the drought ended. This meant that they had to grow bigger and bigger as the young grew. Eventually they grew till they were about 10 ft high and weighed up to 230 kg! The aborigines were asked what they were called. Unfortunately the aborigines could not understand English, and they replied “I can’t understand what you are saying.” In the local language this was “K’an’ga roo.” Ever since they have been called ‘Kangaroos’. See the Wikipaedia article:
    “Procoptodon goliah (the giant short-faced kangaroo) is the largest kangaroo to have ever lived. It grew 2–3 metres (7–10 feet) tall, and weighed up to 230 kilograms. It had a flat shortened face with jaw and teeth adapted for chewing tough semi-arid vegetation, and forward-looking eyes providing stereoscopic vision.”
    As they were so big the Goliah Kangaroos were rather slow moving, and while they could easily kill Australian lions (see Wikipaedia article on Australian megafauna) by kicking them, the largest succumbed to the Aborigines when they invaded Australia. Only the smaller ones are left, with
    Red Kangaroos “A large male can be 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) tall and weigh 90 kg (200 lb).” They infest gold courses in Canberra, where the fairways are watered to encourage the grass, and the kangaroos are used to mow the grass to keep it short for golfers.
    (This comment was not written on April 1, though that may have been appropriate.)

    • Actually, the kangaroos are kept at Defence sites to intercept suicide bombers in case of terrorist attacks.

  50. I don’t know what rabbit species we received in Australia but they are certainly prolific breeders and manage to put up with plus 40C summer temperatures with ease.
    24 rabbits were introduced in 1859.
    By 1869 2 million a year were being harvested without denting the population
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbits_in_Australia
    Western Australia built a 1800km long fence to keep them out but it didn’t work
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit-proof_fence
    Any suggestion that slightly elevated temperatures are going to put rabbits at risk is simply laughable

  51. “In less than a century, rabbits introduced from temperate England infested the blistering hot Australian outback, to the point that they became a major economic threat to Australian farmers.”
    Not only in the hot tropics, simultaneously they overrun bleak, subarctic Macquarie Island to the point where they have virtually eliminated all vegetation (though a poison eradication program has apparently succeeded in wiping them out in the last few years)


  52. “The wind is blowing, blowing over the grass.
    It shakes the willow catkins; the leaves shine silver.
    Where are you going, wind? Far, far away
    Over the hills, over the edge of the world.
    Take me with you, wind, high over the sky.
    I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-wind,
    Into the sky, the feathery sky and the rabbit.
    In autumn the leaves come blowing, yellow and brown.
    They rustle in the ditches, they tug and hang on the hedge.
    Where are you going, leaves? Far, far away
    Into the earth we go, with the rain and the berries.
    Take me, leaves, O take me on your dark journey.
    I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-leaves,
    In the deep places of the earth, the earth and the rabbit.
    Frith lies in the evening sky. The clouds are red about him.
    I am here, Lord Frith, I am running through the long grass.
    O take me with you, dropping behind the woods,
    Far away, to the heart of light, the silence.
    For I am ready to give you my breath, my life,
    The shining circle of the sun, the sun and the rabbit.”

    Silverweed, from Watership Down.

  53. I saw an experiment once where they managed to switch the brains of a human and a rabbit by using some sort of helmet connected with bunches of wires and lots of electricity. Perhaps what has happened here is that the rabbit brains have been switched with the climatologist brains. Next the IPCC will be issuing rules on rabbits as the protected species of the world


    • Glenn999
      April 18, 2015 at 10:26 am
      I saw an experiment once where they managed to switch the brains of a human and a rabbit by using some sort of helmet connected with bunches of wires and lots of electricity.

      So, they ended up with a man that only wanted to run around having sex and a rabbit that… uh,
      so there was actually no change at all.

  54. Here is an interesting paragraph from the paper:
    “Non-native ranges for the only three invasive lagomorphs, European hare (Lepus europaeus), Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) and European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), were not modelled because invasive species are not at equilibrium with the environment and their niches cannot be transferred in space and time”
    So all of you here who have been talking about how well rabbits seem to do virtually anywhere on the planet, please shut up. Those rabbits are not at equilibrum, they are cheating and therefore don’t count.
    More seriously that sentence sums up one of the most common and cherished illusions of “conservation science”, the idea of a sort of preindustrial Eden where everything was unchangeable and “at equilibrum”. Of course this has never been, climate (and almost everything else) has always been changing, nearly all species are always changing their range, and are “invasive” in that sense. And the modern range of a species almost certainly is smaller than its potential climatic range.

  55. Fallacious claims. The very first line of the abstract… make that just the first half of the very first line in the abstract, to wit: “Climate change during the past five decades has impacted significantly on natural ecosystems….” is an assumptive statement that requires – at minimum – 1) specific examples, and 2) definitive proof that “climate change” is the responsible factor… not to mention a definition of the descriptive term “impacted significantly.” Else the assumption is nothing more than argument by assertion, i.e., Ipse dixit. High school debate teams know better.

  56. Patton giving a speech to his men before battle was quoted: ” Kill the Nazi bastards”
    Montgomery quoted describing his plan to attack Belgium “I’ll come on them like an angry rabbit!” Did he know any AGW scientists?

  57. Rabbits are also on the list of “What have the Romans ever done for us?”.
    They apparently introduced the rabbit to Britain[*]. So before they adapted to Australian heat the same population had already adapted once to British cold (notwithstanding the ‘Roman Warm Period’).
    *[In cli-sci model world, the rabbits probably introduced the Romans to Britain.]

  58. I’m waiting for the next theory, that a hotter world will bring about larger animals, aka giant dinosaur rabbits.
    I am betting that someone out there has managed to make a model write a script for Jurassic Park 4. Now I just have to come up with a running title.

    Damn. It’s already been done. There go my millions.

  59. Warming will suit rabbits just fine. They flourished beyond imagination in most parts of Australia. Their first preference was of course food, but after that the warmer and drier the better.

    • Their second preference is sex. You forgot to mention that.
      Food, sex and then comfort.
      Those are the needs of a rabbit.

  60. “…Species Distribution Models (SDMs) have been used widely to project changes in species’ bioclimatic envelopes under future climate scenarios…”

    Translation:
    Others and we have done this before and gotten away with it.

    “…Here, we aimed to advance this technique by assessing future changes in the bioclimatic envelopes of an entire mammalian order, the Lagomorpha,..”

    We’re so proud of our abilities that we decided to generalize specific traits. Lump sum all of the potentials so we can find those miniscule hidden CAGW boosting variables.

    “… using a novel framework for model validation based jointly on subjective expert evaluation…”

    Translation:
    We held group meetings to solicit and collect member opinions. Forming collective political decisions regarding model capabilities. Yay us!

    “…and objective model evaluation statistics…”

    Translation:
    Of course, we generated sufficient confirmation bias statistic results to make it look all sciency.

    “…SDMs were built using climatic, topographical, and habitat variables for all 87 lagomorph species under past and current climate scenarios…”

    Translation:
    Here is where we included or imbedded all of the proper variables necessary to fulfill our confirmation bias.

    “…Expert evaluation…”

    Meaning opinions.

    “…and Kappa values were used to validate past and current models and only those deemed ‘modellable’ within our framework were projected under future climate scenarios (58 species)…”

    A very interesting way to state that their collective confirmation biases decided what and where they would model species.
    In their “S3 Supporting Information. Fig. D. Percentage change in predicted lagomorph species richness from the 1930s to 2080s.” the researchers ‘graphically portray world and continent area changes.
    Odd, Australia and the Arctic are not modeled
    One also wonders just how those pesky wabbits are modeled for areas like the North America; just how are causes for past changes in population decided? e.g. hunting, poison, disease, coyote expansion…

    “…Phylogenetically-controlled regressions were used to test whether species traits correlated with predicted responses to climate change…”

    Ah yes, the “Table C. Results: phylogenetically-controlled generalised least square regressions.”
    Subjectively chosen traits tortured into submission.
    Let’s not forget that list of rabbit, hare, and pika experts. Again the supplement “S3 Supporting Information. Table A. Lagomorph experts, institutions and species evaluated.” boldly lists at least one WWF ‘expert’.
    One generalized model mess. One does wonder how many ‘meetings’ in far flung exotic locations were required.
    Wile E. Coyote, Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck would be embarrassed to be associated with this research.
    T T T That’s All Folks!

    • “Species Distribution Models (SDMs) have been used widely to project changes”
      Translation: ‘Who needs ground truthing, anyway.’ Without validation, models are just so many castles in the air.

  61. I found the model used in the study. And it includes wolf issues as well. Wonder why they didn’t add that to the study? The model includes bunny population explosions, die-off, killer bunnies, etc. These devastating effects were all anthropogenic in origin. Humans selfishly use animals for their own pleasure. Dirty humans.

  62. After following science for most of my 77 years and being involved as a layman on the edges of science as a trustee for a major science institute here in south east OZ for 28 years I am seeing something that a couple of decades ago I would never have believed could have ever happened.
    And that is large parts of science along with the institutions associated with science being ridiculed, disparaged, subject to contemptuous commentary, being accused of gross greed, ignorance, plagiarism, arrogance, data manipulation, overweening self promotion, hubris on a grand scale, bigotry, rabidly fixated ideological conformity and intellectual incompetence on a grand scale, all unfortunately in my humble opinion fully justified by the facts and performances surrounding the practicing of most science and the operations of most scientific institutions today.
    Large parts of science and the”scientists” involved have been totally corrupted by both floods of tax payers money and the previously well earned public respect for science as a license to justify just about any stupidity emanating from some wannabe pseudo, self important scientists.
    Those same scientists arrogantly promote and publicly parade their own personal opinions on any subject as some sort of highly relevant scientific opinion of great import to society, a society which should be prepared to take that opinion of such an important personage in science as gospel to be implemented as rapidly as possible across the whole of the said society.
    Science is well on the it’s way to skid row in public opinion unless it cleanses it’s Augean stables and very soon.

  63. After more than a century of all-out warfare against rabbits in Australia, the place is still packed with rabbits. Rabbits were introduced in the early 1800s. Armed assault, chemical warfare and introduced and local predators have had no impact. They spread from the Australian Alps to the Australian deserts.
    I think they will laugh off CO2.

  64. Don’t let them wind you up with stuff like this.
    They know that there are still real scientists out there who care about what is real.
    They are trying to f**k with our brains by putting out crap like this,
    knowing how it will offend anyone with real scientific instinct.
    They target such individuals as enemies of the people.
    As Winston Churchill used to say:
    “Don’t let the bu99ers get you down”.

  65. Where grass grows, rabbits grow. NZ has a leporidae population problem second only to Australias. Here, they are a pest. They flourish from sea level to the high alpine meadow. They don’t seem to care about climate.
    Mustelids were introduced to try and control them. The weasels, stoats and ferrets found the native bird population much easier and tastier game, driving some species into extinction. But not the rabbits. They didn’t notice. They must have made the place seem more like home.
    Myxomatosis affected them like the Great Flu Epidemic of 1919-1921 affected human populations—killed some and the population rebounded.
    The four day Great Easter Bunny Hunt is an annual institution, taking out thousands. But that … dip … in the population is filled by that time next year.
    So climate Change is going to affect them? I better lay in more ammo, then.

  66. Species Distribution Models (SDMs). Unbelievable … more models. I’m sick of bl**dy models!

    • yum. I love me some rabbit, pan fried, splashed with sherry the last minute to deglaze the pan, and served with mashed potatoes and gravy. Some wilted greens top it off. Anything printed with Samuel Adams washes it all down. Homemade ice cream smothered in huckleberry jam and drizzled with a dark chocolate sauce sends my family to bed happy.

  67. My favorite global warming story is the super abundance of cats in Germany and the chronic shortage of Bulgarian prostitutes.

  68. I knew I knew that word:
    Lepus “The Hare” is an ancient constellation that can be located in the southern hemisphere directly south of the constellation Orion, “The Hunter”. The name Lepus comes from the Latin origin meaning “hare”. The constellation was founded by the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century.
    Per:
    https://astronomylinks.wikispaces.com/Lepus

  69. Rabbits are a very serious problem is S.E. Australia. They have no natural predators here. As a result, they destroy large swathes of flora, cause erosion and even have the capacity to decimate entire forests, by preventing natural regrowth as old trees die out, which is common in our rather highly variable climate. At the moment there are almost plague numbers of these pests. If global warming or cooling or farting or whatever is happening helps to reduce their numbers, it will only be welcomed here. However, I seriously doubt that it would be the case, since this creature is enormously adaptable, endures incredible temperature and weather extremes and does not seem to be in any way deterred from its incessantly destructive behaviours and its almost unmatched capacity for replication.

  70. I guess wabbits are so cute – therefore climate change is a very great threat to them. Quite unlike giant spiders Since most people don’t find giant spiders cute climate change will inevitably increase thier numbers. (see spider article today on wuwt).
    Its pretty simple. Climate change is bad therefore;
    – cute animals will all die!!
    – ugly animals will totally take over the world!!
    And don’t get me started on the rabbit plague in Australia. That situation alone destroys any credibility this ‘research’ may have pretended to have.

  71. The ignorant comments left here are simply climate-change [snip. Stop using pejoratives like “deniers”. -mod.] reactions to a headline rather than the content of the original scientific paper. European rabbits (invasive in Australia) and American cottontails may be very common and widespread but the paper looks at 87 species of lagomorphs (not just rabbits but hares, jackrabbits and pikas) of which a quarter are ALREADY threatened with extinction with 13 endangered or critically endangered. For example, pikas already live at the top of mountains and empirical observation (rather than modelling) DOES show that they have already disappeared from many lowland or southern latitude sites entirely consistent with model predictions. There is a nice rebuttal to Eric Worrall’s poor reporting and all these nonsensical comments at: hotwhopper. If you had bothered to read the original paper you would also know that the study was NOT funded by tax payers money; rather internal funds; thus no one paid for a particular outcome other than the scientists who were genuinely interested to know what might happen this already highly threatened yet charismatic and much loved group.

    • For example, pikas already live at the top of mountains and empirical observation (rather than modelling) DOES show that they have already disappeared from many lowland or southern latitude sites entirely consistent with model predictions.

      This pika myth has been rebutted already. It is false.

  72. “Global warming strikes again as thousands of giant, methane addicted, brain eating, radio carbon modified, jakalopes starve to death during attack at climate conference…. Film at eleven.”

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