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

Friday, 18 September 2015

Stray cats and dogs exclude native predators in Madagascar

Farris, Z. J., Kelly, M. J., Karpanty, S., & Ratelolahy, F. (2015). Patterns of spatial co‐occurrence among native and exotic carnivores in north‐eastern Madagascar. Animal Conservation.

Human populations continue to increase and encroach on remaining natural habitats worldwide, resulting in greater numbers and larger ranges of commensal exotic carnivores such as cats and dogs. This results in increased interactions with native wildlife. In Madagascar, we know relatively little about the effects of domestic and/or feral dogs and cats on native carnivore populations. We investigated spatial interactions by combining photographic sampling across seven sites with two-species co-occurrence modeling to provide the first assessment of the spatial co-occurrence of native and exotic carnivores in Madagascar, including an examination of habitat characteristics that explain these relationships. Our surveys from 2008 to 2013 accumulated 2991 photo-captures of native and exotic carnivores in 8854 trap nights. We found that native and exotic carnivores in rainforest habitat occur together less often than expected and that exotic carnivores may be replacing native carnivores, particularly in forest areas nearest villages. Six of the native carnivores in this study had higher site use in the absence of exotic carnivores and their species interaction factors (SIF) revealed a lack of co-occurrence (e.g. SIF < 1.0). We found that nocturnal and/or crepuscular native carnivores were less likely to co-occur with exotic carnivores. We demonstrate the effectiveness of combining photographic sampling with co-occurrence modeling to investigate the effects of exotic carnivores on an entire community of native carnivores. Our study exposes the strong negative influence of exotic carnivores, ranging from exclusion to complete replacement of native carnivores, and we urgently recommend a combination of targeted educational programs and removal programs to combat the influx of exotic carnivores.

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