Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Do domestic cats impose an unsustainable harvest on urban bird populations?

van Heezik Y., A. Smyth, A. Adams & J. Gordon. 2010. Do domestic cats impose an unsustainable harvest on urban bird populations? Biological Conservation143(1): 121-130

We assessed the impact of domestic cats on population persistence of native and exotic urban bird populations using a model adjusted for habitat-specific catch rates, cat ownership and hunting activity data. GPS-derived home ranges of 32 cats and resource selection indices demonstrated the degree of penetration and preference for native vegetation fragments. Owners reported on prey brought back by 144 domestic cats in Dunedin, New Zealand, during 12 months. One third of cats never brought back prey, and 21% returned more than one item/month. Cats brought back a mean of 13.4 prey items/year (median = 4), with cats aged <1 year returning more prey than older cats. Birds were the most common prey, followed by rodents. Although cats penetrated adjacent vegetation fragments they did not catch more birds and preferred garden habitat, suggesting that predation pressure may be reduced in fragments. Cat home range size appears to be constrained by cat density while the number of birds caught depends on the density of available prey. Estimates of city-wide catch for six bird species were either more than total urban population size estimates or close to lower confidence intervals. Modelling of three species indicated low likelihood of population persistence with cat predation. The observed persistence of these prey species suggests a meta-population structure with urban populations acting as sinks with source populations located on the city fringe.

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