News FocusBIOLOGICAL CONTROL

Australian Biocontrol Beats Rabbits, But Not Rules

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Science  17 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5435, pp. 1842
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5435.1842

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Summary

MELBOURNE-- To stop millions of foliage-eating introduced rabbits from turning huge tracts into desert, Australia has become the only nation to successfully use a biocontrol agent on a vertebrate, namely the European rabbit calicivirus disease. The virus appears to be a stunning success--rabbit numbers are way down and once barren deserts are blooming. Yet for biocontrol officials, the calicivirus experience has been a major embarrassment, a sobering lesson in the unpredictability of biocontrol agents.

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