Rabbit Calicivirus Disease - Magic Bullet or Pandora's Box?
A Case Study on Biological Controls
Department of Animal Biotechnology and Conservation
Delaware Valley College
The characters in this dilemma case, representing the scientific community and government, must make a decision about whether or not to release a virulent pathogen into the environment in order to control the rapidly expanding population of European rabbits in New Zealand. As they work through the case, students grapple with the complex issues associated with introduced species and biological controls. The case was originally written for a wildlife management course taught to college juniors and seniors.
- Understand the potential hazards posed by biological introductions.
- Predict whether a biological control agent is likely to be effective.
- Understand the spread of disease and how pathogens may sometimes be able to jump to new host species.
- Explain the evolutionary "arms race," the evolution of virulence, and why organisms may become resistant to control measures over time.
- Perform a risk assessment.
KeywordsBiocontrol; biological control; calicivirus; myxoma; species introduction; alien species; introduced species; pest management; European rabbit; New Zealand; environmental decision-making
Topical AreasEthics, Policy issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division, Graduate
Type / MethodsDilemma/Decision, Jig-Saw, Problem-Based Learning
Subject HeadingsWildlife Management | Ecology | Zoology |