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A native apex predator limits an invasive mesopredator and protects native prey: Tasmanian devils protecting bandicoots from cats

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Cunningham, CX ORCID: 0000-0003-1640-2533, Johnson, CN ORCID: 0000-0002-9719-3771 and Jones, ME ORCID: 0000-0001-7558-9022 2020 , 'A native apex predator limits an invasive mesopredator and protects native prey: Tasmanian devils protecting bandicoots from cats' , Ecology Letters, vol. 23, no. 4 , pp. 711-721 , doi: 10.1111/ele.13473.

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Abstract

Apex predators can limit the abundance and behaviour of mesopredators, thereby reducing 29 predation on smaller species. We know less about whether native apex predators are effective in 30 suppressing invasive mesopredators, a major global driver of vertebrate extinctions. We use the 31 severe disease-induced decline of an apex predator, the Tasmanian devil, to test whether devils limit 32 abundance of invasive feral cats and in turn protect smaller native prey. Cat abundance was ∼58% 33 higher where devils had declined, which in turn negatively affected a smaller native prey species. 34 Devils had a stronger limiting effect on cats than on a native mesopredator, suggesting apex 35 predators may have stronger suppressive effects on evolutionarily naive species than coevolved 36 species. Our results highlight that apex predators not only regulate native species but can also 37 confer resistance to the impacts of invasive populations. Apex predators could therefore be a 38 powerful but underutilised tool to prevent biodiversity loss.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Cunningham, CX and Johnson, CN and Jones, ME
Keywords: Tasmanian devil, apex predator, disease, evolutionary naivete, feral cat, invasive species, mesopredator release, structural equation modelling, trophic cascade, quoll, conservation
Journal or Publication Title: Ecology Letters
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd
ISSN: 1461-0248
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/ele.13473
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRSThis is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: [A native apex predator limits an invasive mesopredator and protects native prey: Tasmanian devils protecting bandicoots from cats], which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/ele.13473. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions

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