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, 10 October 2015

Corridors of introduced feral cats infringing ecologically sensitive areas in NZ

Recio, M. R., Seddon, P. J., & Moore, A. B. (2015). Niche and movement models identify corridors of introduced feral cats infringing ecologically sensitive areas in New Zealand. Biological Conservation, 192, 48-56.

The mitigation of the impact caused by introduced mammalian predators is a priority for conservation managers. Reducing predator population numbers is the most realistic strategy in mainland areas or large islands, and could be a feasible alternative to pest eradication. However, the success of control campaigns depends not only on removal of resident individuals, but also on managing reinvasions facilitated by connectivity with surrounding source populations. We combined niche analysis and fine-scale movement analyses of feral cats (Felis silvestris catus) to identify least-cost corridors from sources surrounding controlled areas of the ecologically sensitive area of Tasman Valley and Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park, New Zealand. Intensive control of exotic predators has been executed during the last ten years in this area, where they pose a threat to native species such as endangered ground-nesting birds. Species distribution models revealed that cat distribution in the region was limited by its main prey, the European rabbit, and to mid-elevation (~ 1600 m) areas. Using GPS-tracking data and step-selection functions, we found that cats moved in an optimized fashion suggesting a maximum energy gain associated with high rabbit presence, while avoiding landscape obstacles such as rugged terrain. Connectivity between the high probability of cat presence in source and destination locations (in the control area) was facilitated by 1–3 corridors between valleys and multiple paths within valleys. Identification of least-cost paths, rooted in ecological and behavioral mechanisms underlying space use, can identify realistic putative corridors for focused implementation of control measures for introduced species in ecologically sensitive areas.

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