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

Monday, 13 January 2014

Interbreeding of feral and wild cats in Britain

Hubbard, A.L., S. McOrist, T.W. Jones, R. Boid, R. Scott & N. Easterbee. 1992. Is survival of European wildcats Felis silvestris in Britain threatened by interbreeding with domestic cats? Biological Conservation, 61: 203-208.

The relationship of the domestic cat Felis catus in Britain to the European wildcat Felis silvestris remaining in northern Britain includes a significant overlap of the phenotypic features of introgressive hybrids. The status of wildcats as a separate endangered species requiring protection to remain viable in the wild required analysis of their genetic relationship to domestic cats. Despite the discovery of free-living cats with both phenotypic resemblance to F. silvestris and close genetic similarities to F. catus, as measured by nucleic acid probe analysis, albumin heterogeneity (immunological distance) and isoenzyme analysis, eight of 42 putative wildcats caught in remote areas of northern and western Scotland showed clear differences from F. catus in the genetic analyses used. These eight wildcats had pelages consistent with the wildcat; however, 15 of the remaining cats had pelages containing domestic cat characters and had either one or no wildcat genetic character. The results suggest that some genetically distinct European wildcats remain in Britain, and the efforts to prevent interbreeding with domestic cats may enhance their conservation.

See more on domestic cat introgression in wildcat

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