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, 8 November 2015

Monitoring feral cats' movements at important seabird colony

Bonnaud, E., Berger, G., Zarzoso-Lacoste, D., Bourgeois, K., Palmas, P., & Vidal, É. (2015). First steps in studying cat movement behaviour through VHF tracking at a major world breeding site for the Mediterranean endemic Yelkouan shearwater. Revue d'Ecologie, 70 (12)

Cats are considered one of the most harmful invasive predators of island native species, particularly adult shearwaters, which are highly vulnerable to predation. Populations of Yelkouan shearwater, an endemic species of the Mediterranean basin with only a few large breeding colonies, are predicted to decline in response to feral or free-roaming cats. In a previous study, the impact of introduced cats on the Yelkouan shearwater population of Le Levant Island was assessed through the analysis of cat diet over a two-year period. The study showed that cats prey upon three staple species: rabbits, rats, and shearwaters, with a peak of predation on shearwaters immediately upon their arrival at colonies (prospecting period). Here, we supplement this previous work by conducting a preliminary study on the movement patterns of four free-roaming cats (three feral and one domestic) using very high frequency (VHF) tracking to analyse individual behaviour and home ranges on Le Levant Island, one of the Yelkouan shearwater’s major breeding sites. Our results show that two of the three feral cats were recorded inside and in close vicinity to the shearwater colonies, mainly during the prospecting period, while the domestic cat was never recorded inside the colonies. This suggests that some feral cats could show movement behavioural patterns linked to the shearwater presence as soon as these seabirds arrive at the colonies. The monitored domestic cat also showed a relatively small home range, while feral cats covered larger distances and with overlapping territories. Based on these preliminary results of cat movement behaviour, in addition to the previous results of cat predation, it is evident that cat impact must be reduced. This may be achieved through accurate management strategy that takes cat movement behaviour into account to avoid exhausting one of the most important breeding sites for this Mediterranean endemic species

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