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A triple threat: high population density, high foraging intensity and flexible habitat preferences explain high impact of feral cats on prey

Hamer, RP, Gardiner, RZ, Proft, KM ORCID: 0000-0003-2895-5186, Johnson, CN ORCID: 0000-0002-9719-3771 and Jones, ME ORCID: 0000-0001-7558-9022 2020 , 'A triple threat: high population density, high foraging intensity and flexible habitat preferences explain high impact of feral cats on prey' , Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences, vol. 288 , pp. 1-7 , doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1194.

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Abstract

Alien mammalian carnivores have contributed disproportionately to globalloss of biodiversity. In Australia, predation by the feral cat and red fox is oneof the most significant causes of the decline of native vertebrates. To discoverwhy cats have greater impacts on prey than native predators, we comparedthe ecology of the feral cat to a marsupial counterpart, the spotted-tailedquoll. Individual prey are 20-200 times more likely to encounter feral cats,because of the combined effects of cats’ higher population densities, greaterintensity of home-range use and broader habitat preferences. These characteristicsalso mean that the costs to the prey of adopting anti-predatorbehaviours against feral cats are likely to be much higher than adoptingsuch behaviours in response to spotted-tailed quolls, due to the reliabilityand ubiquity of feral cat cues. These results help explain the devastatingimpacts of cats on wildlife in Australia and other parts of the world.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Hamer, RP and Gardiner, RZ and Proft, KM and Johnson, CN and Jones, ME
Keywords: invasive species, feral cat, invasive predators, spotted-tailed quoll, predation, wildlife conservation, prey naivete, relative predation impact, predator-prey interaction
Journal or Publication Title: Royal Society of London. Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Publisher: Royal Soc London
ISSN: 0962-8452
DOI / ID Number: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1194
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2021 The Author(s)

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