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

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Impact of cats and foxes on the small vertebrate fauna in Western Australia

Short, J., Calver, M. C., & Risbey, D. A. (1999). The impact of cats and foxes on the small vertebrate fauna of Heirisson Prong, Western Australia. I. Exploring potential impact using diet analysis. Wildlife Research, 26(5), 621-630.

The diets of cats (Felis catus) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes) killed during predator control at a semi-arid site in Western Australia were studied to see which prey species may be affected by predation from these introduced predators. The number of items, biomass and frequency of occurrence of each food type in the gut contents from 109 fetal cats, 62 semi-feral cats and 47 foxes were used to calculate an Index of Relative Importance for each food category for each predator. Mammals were the most important prey group for all three predators, with rabbit being the most highly ranked prey species. The diets of feral and semi-feral cats were similar in dietary diversity but differed in the frequency of occurrence of some food categories. Native rodents, birds and reptiles occurred more frequently and were ranked higher in the diet of feral cats, and food scraps occurred more frequently in the diet of semi-feral cats. The diet of foxes was less diverse than that of either group of cats. Invertebrates and sheep carrion were more important prey categories for foxes than for cats. In the summer-autumn period, foxes ate more sheep carrion and invertebrates than they did in winter-spring. The diet of feral cats was more diverse in summer-autumn, including a greater range of invertebrates and more rodents, birds and reptiles than in the winter-spring period. We predict that cats are more likely to have an impact on small vertebrates at this site and that the control of cats could lead to recoveries in the populations of native rodents, birds and reptiles. By contrast, the control of foxes alone may lead to a rise in cat numbers and a consequent detrimental impact on small vertebrate populations.

Risbey, D. A., Calver, M. C., Short, J., Bradley, J. S., & Wright, I. W. (2000). The impact of cats and foxes on the small vertebrate fauna of Heirisson Prong, Western Australia. II. A field experiment. Wildlife Research, 27(3), 223-235.

The hypothesis that predation by feral cats and introduced foxes reduces population sizes of small, native vertebrates was supported by results of a predator-removal experiment at Heirisson Prong, a semi-arid site in Western Australia. The methods of control used against cats and foxes to protect native mammals reintroduced to Heirisson Prong produced three broad ‘predator zones’: a low-cat and low-fox zone, where foxes were eradicated and spotlight counts of cats declined after intensive cat control; a high-cat and low-fox zone where spotlight counts of cats increased three-fold after foxes were controlled; and a zone where numbers of cats and foxes were not manipulated. Small mammals and reptiles were monitored for one year before and three years after predator control began. Captures of small mammals increased in the low-cat and low-fox zone, but where only foxes were controlled captures of small mammals declined by 80%. In the absence of cat and fox control, captures of small mammals were variable over the sampling period, lower than where both cats and foxes were controlled, yet higher than where only foxes were controlled. The capture success of reptiles did not appear to be related to changes in predator counts. This study presents the first experimental evidence from mainland Australia that feral cats can have a negative impact on populations of small mammals.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...