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, 18 January 2015

Feral cat virus infection prevalence, survival, population density, and multi-scale habitat use in an exurban landscape

Normand, C. M. (2014). Feral cat virus infection prevalence, survival, population density, and multi-scale habitat use in an exurban landscape (Doctoral dissertation, ARKANSAS TECH UNIVERSITY).

Domestic cats (Felis catus) are ubiquitous in natural and anthropogenically modified ecosystems and they negatively impact their environments. Prior research into feral cat ecology in the U.S. has focused primarily on feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) prevalence, spatial organization, and home ranges of cats in urban and rural areas, but information concerning habitat use or exurban feral cat populations is sparse. The purpose of my research is to investigate feral cat virus infection prevalence; survival; population density; and macro- and microhabitat use in exurban Russellville, Arkansas. During October 2012 – August 2013, I captured 93 feral cats and collected blood from each individual for FeLV/FIV testing. I also fit mortality sensing radiocollars on 29 adult cats and conducted radiotelemetry over 65 weeks to determine survival, home range sizes, and to identify summer daytime resting sites (DRSs). I used multivariate analyses to determine 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order habitat use. The combined FeLV and FIV prevalence was 29.02% and I estimated annual feral cat survival as 0.99 with male cats having a greater survival rate than females. In general, annual home range areas (15.17 - 19.76ha) were larger than warm season (9.03 - 15.33ha), but not different from cold season ranges (11.09 - 23.91ha). Home ranges were larger than core areas (2.97 - 5.09ha) for all seasons. Male cat home ranges (22.14 - 29.17ha) were larger than female ranges (9.60 - 12.26ha), but virus status and body condition score did not influence range sizes. Feral cat population density within Russellville was 0.10cats/ha. Second and 3rd order habitat use analyses indicated feral cats used open-low and medium-high intensity development disproportionately to land cover availability and 4 th order analysis identified thick vegetation within these land cover types as the most frequently used DRSs. Although feral cat population density is relatively low, high virus infection prevalence, high annual survival, and large home ranges imply cats have the potential for substantial influence on the community. These results suggest that the city of Russellville would benefit from the development of a feral cat management plan, which would require long-term, intensive efforts

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