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

Thursday 16 July 2015

Citizen science to monitor feral cats in Australia


Cat vectored toxoplasmosis among the main causes of mortality in endangered Nene

Work, T. M., Dagenais, J., Rameyer, R., & Breeden, R. (2015). Mortality patterns in endangered Hawaiian geese (Nene, Branta sandvicensis). Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 51(3), 688-695.

Understanding causes of death can aid management and recovery of endangered bird populations. Toward those ends, we systematically examined 300 carcasses of endangered Hawaiian Geese (Nene; Branta sandvicensis) from Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, and Kauai between 1992 and 2013. The most common cause of death was emaciation, followed by trauma (vehicular strikes and predation), and infectious/inflammatory diseases of which toxoplasmosis (infection with Toxoplasma gondii) predominated. Toxicoses were less common and were dominated by lead poisoning or botulism. For captive birds, inflammatory conditions predominated, whereas emaciation, trauma, and inflammation were common in free-ranging birds. Mortality patterns were similar for males and females. Trauma predominated for adults, whereas emaciation was more common for goslings. Causes of death varied among islands, with trauma dominating on Molokai, emaciation and inflammation on Kauai, emaciation on Hawaii, and inflammation and trauma on Maui. Understanding habitat or genetic-related factors that predispose Nene (particularly goslings) to emaciation might reduce the impact of this finding. In addition, trauma and infection with T. gondii are human-related problems that may be attenuated if effectively managed (e.g., road signs, enforcement of speed limits, feral cat [Felis catus] control). Such management actions might serve to enhance recovery of this endangered species.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Effects of castration on social and reproductive behaviors of stray dogs in flocks

Arkun, B., Tırpan, M. B., & Aķay, E. (2015). Effects of castration on social and reproductive behaviors of stray dogs in flocks. Lalahan Hayvancılık Araştırma Enstitüsü Dergisi, 55(1), 15-22.

The study is focused on the possible changes observed in the reproductive behavioral patterns of stray dogs following the castration procedure and to see if this changes effect social behavioral patterns of dogs towards people in intercommunal places adoptively. Three separate dog packs in three separate zones were included in the study. The study consisted a total of 23 dogs of which 12 were female and 11 were male. The sniffing, approaching, licking, barking, courting, mounting, biting, aggression, sign marking behaviors of dogs, their interest towards people and other animals are observed for 12 weeks pre-castration and 16 weeks post-castration. The observation reports were evaluated weekly and frequency of specific behaviors were noted. During the 16 weeks following the castration, a decrease in frequency of sniffing, approaching, licking, barking, courting, leaping and marking behaviors was observed in most of the dogs. Biting and aggressive behavior of dogs did not present significant changes. However the dogs showed an increased "positive interest" towards environmental factors and people, a decrease was not observed in aggressive behavior in dogs which were aggressive before castration. As a result, a decrease in reproductive behaviors and an increase interest towards people and other environmental factors were observed in castrated stray dogs in packs during the 16 weeks following the operation.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Pathogen exposure varies widely among sympatric populations of wild and domestic felids

Carver, S., Bevins, S. N., Lappin, M. R., Boydston, E. E., Lyren, L. M., Alldredge, M. W., Logan K.A., Sweanor, L.L., Riley, S.P.D., Klein Serieys, L.E., Fisher, R.N., Vickers,T.W., Boyce, W.M., McBride, R., Cunningham, M.C., Jennings, M., Lewis, J.S., Lunn, T. Crooks, K.R. & VandeWoude, S. (2015). Pathogen exposure varies widely among sympatric populations of wild and domestic felids across the United States. Ecological Applications.
Understanding how landscape, host, and pathogen traits contribute to disease exposure requires systematic evaluations of pathogens within and among host species and geographic regions. The relative importance of these attributes is critical for management of wildlife and mitigating domestic animal and human disease, particularly given rapid ecological changes, such as urbanization. We screened >1,000 samples from sympatric populations of puma (Puma concolor), bobcat (Lynx rufus) and domestic cat (Felis catus) across urban gradients in six sites, representing three regions, in North America for exposure to a representative suite of bacterial, protozoal and viral pathogens (Bartonella sp., Toxoplasma gondii, feline herpesvirus-1, feline panleukopenea virus, feline calicivirus, feline immunodeficiency virus). We evaluated prevalence within each species, and examined host trait and land cover determinants of exposure-providing an unprecedented analysis of factors relating to potential for infections in domesticated and wild felids. Prevalence differed among host species (highest for puma and lowest for domestic cat) and was greater for indirectly transmitted pathogens. Sex was inconsistently predictive of exposure to directly transmitted pathogens only, and age infrequently predictive of both direct and indirectly transmitted pathogens. Determinants of pathogen exposure were widely divergent between the wild felid species. For puma, suburban landuse predicted increased exposure to Bartonella sp. in southern California, and FHV-1 exposure increased near urban edges in Florida. This may suggest inter-specific transmission with domestic cats via flea vectors (California) and direct contact (Florida) around urban boundaries. Bobcats captured near urban areas had increased exposure to T. gondii in Florida, suggesting an urban source of prey. Bobcats captured near urban areas in Colorado and Florida had higher FIV exposure, possibly suggesting increased intra-specific interactions through pile-up of home ranges. Beyond these regional and pathogen specific relationships, proximity to the wildland urban interface did not generally increase the probability of disease exposure in wild or domestic felids, emphasizing the importance of local ecological determinants. Indeed, pathogen exposure was often negatively associated with the wildland urban interface for all felids. Our analyses suggest cross-species pathogen transmission events around this interface may be infrequent, but followed by self-sustaining propagation within the new host species.

Thursday 9 July 2015

7 (more) kiwis dead by dogs

Feral cats population would decrease in range in NSW under climate change

Caley, P., Tennant, P., & Hood, G. (2011). Modelling the distribution of vertebrate pests in New South Wales under climate change. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.

Feral cats were considered to occur in all but 0.4% of cells during the 2004 survey, with densities considered highest in the south-west plains (no data was collected for the ACT). All climate models forecast a substantial decrease in the area of moderate and high cat density, with a commensurate increase in low cat density

Modelling future distribution of feral cats in NZ under Climate change

Aguilar, G.D., M.J. Farnwortha & L. Winder. 2015. Mapping the stray domestic cat (Felis catus) population in New Zealand: Species distribution modelling with a climate change scenario and implications for protected areas. Applied Geography, 63: 146–154

Species distribution models of stray cats were developed using two types of occurrence data: (i) a combined dataset of stray cats and cat colonies in Auckland and projected to the wider New Zealand area; and (ii) population density as an analogue for country-wide stray cat occurrence. These occurrence data, together with sets of environmental variables were used as input to the Maxent modelling tool to produce maps of suitability for the species. Environmental variables used in the models consist of current bioclimatic conditions, and a future climate scenario (RCP8.5 for year 2070 CCSM model). Commonly occurring bias in the modelling process due to latitude, the area for selecting background points in model evaluation, inherent spatial autocorrelation of occurrence points, and correlated bioclimatic variables were explicitly addressed. Results show that the North Island consistently provide more suitable areas for stray cats with increased suitability in a high emission climate change condition. Key protected areas at risk from the increased suitability to stray cats are also presented.

Sunday 5 July 2015

Coyotes and houses, the best predictors of domestic cat presence

Kays, R., Costello, R., Forrester, T., Baker, M. C., Parsons, A. W., Kalies, E. L., ... & McShea, W. (2015). Cats are rare where coyotes roam. Journal of Mammalogy, gyv100.

Domestic cats (Felis catus) have caused the extinction of many island species and are thought to kill many billions of birds and mammals in the continental United States each year. However, the spatial distribution and abundance of cats and their risk to our protected areas remains unknown. We worked with citizen scientists to survey the mammals at 2,117 sites in 32 protected areas and one urban area across 6 states in the eastern United States using camera traps. We found that most protected areas had high levels of coyote (Canis latrans) activity, but few or no domestic cats. The relative abundance of domestic cats in residential yards, where coyotes were rare, was 300 times higher than in the protected areas. Our spatial models of cat distribution show the amount of coyote activity and housing density are the best predictors of cat activity, and that coyotes and cats overlap the most in small urban forests. Coyotes were nocturnal at all sites, while cats were nocturnal in protected areas, but significantly more diurnal in urban sites. We suggest that the ecological impact of free-ranging cats in the region is concentrated in urban areas or other sites, such as islands, with few coyotes. Our study also shows the value of citizen science for conducting broadscale mammal surveys using photo-vouchered locations that ensure high data quality.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Stray dogs and cats: Ethical Conflicts of Modern Society

Levrini, G. R. (2015). Cães e Gatos Abandonados: conflitos éticos da sociedade moderna. Revista de Educomunicação Ambiental, 5(1), 23-51.

Na história da humanidade, certas práticas são aceitas com normalidade pela sociedade. Tempos depois, as mesmas passam a ser proibidas pelas autoridades devido às reivindicações e mudanças da própria sociedade. Neste estudo focamos os conflitos existentes que a sociedade atual discute em torno da problemática de cães e gatos abandonados, que se tornou um verdadeiro paradigma moral. Busca-se uma abordagem pouco explorada, diferente da discussão atual do uso destes animais como cobaias, ou da abordagem jurídica dos direitos dos animais. Esta pesquisa objetiva entender como se confrontam os princípios éticos da sociedade diante da condição de abandono destes animais. A fundamentação teórica baseou-se nas principais teorias da ética que abordam o assunto, para entender como este paradigma se relaciona com os diferentes atores da sociedade, suas mudanças e conflitos sociais existentes e de como historicamente, alguns dos principais filósofos se posicionaram frente ao tema abordado. A pesquisa foi realizada de forma qualitativa exploratória com 28 entrevistas com indivíduos experts no assunto ou relacionados profundamente com o tema. Estes depoimentos contraditórios sugerem que a sociedade está enfrentando um processo acelerado de reformulação dos valores morais, que modifica atitudes e provoca ações de ajuste nos processos legais.

In the history of humanity, certain practices are accepted as normal by society. Later, the authorities, due to the demands and changes of society itself, prohibit the same practices. This research focus on the moral current society paradigm that discusses around the problem of stray dogs and cats. It explores differently the debate of the use of these animals as guinea pigs for medicine purposes, or on animal rights legislation. It faces an everyday theme, always in a permanent state of contradiction.

This research aims to understand the confronting ethical principles of society with the state of abandonment of these animals. Thus, we also seek theoretical foundation in the major theories of ethics that address the subject in different ways in order to understand this paradigm, and how historically, some of the major philosophers positioned forward the topic addressed. The research was designed as a qualitative exploratory study, utilizing content analysis, in a sample of 28 in deep interviews with experts and individuals related with the theme. These contradictory statements suggest that society is experiencing an accelerated process of reformulation of moral values ​​, with implications and changes in legal regulations.

Friday 3 July 2015

Owners attitude towards cat predation on wildlife

MacDonald, E., T. Milfont and M. Gavin, 2015.What drives cat-owner behaviour? First steps towards limiting domestic-cat impacts on native wildlife. Wildlife Research - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WR14164
Context: Cats can have substantial negative impacts on native wildlife. To harness the collective conservation impact of owners keeping cats inside, advocacy campaigns need to be based on empirical evidence regarding potential drivers to change cat-owner behaviour.

Aims: We assessed the degree to which different socio-psychological factors (attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control), past cat owner behaviour, demographics and group membership explained intentions of zoo visitors to bring cats inside.

Methods: A self-report questionnaire was distributed to zoo visitors based on the theory of planned behaviour. Visitors rated 24 belief statements and four behavioural-intention questions on a scale of one to seven. We adopted an information-theoretic approach to make inferences about the drivers of intention to bring cats inside.

Key results: Attitude and normative beliefs were strong predictors of intention. Specifically, attitudinal beliefs focussed on the benefits to the cat of being inside or the positive impact on the owner were correlated with intention. Bringing cats inside for the benefit of native species was weakly correlated with intention. We found an interaction between normative beliefs (injunctive and descriptive) and past behaviour. For respondents who were intermittently bringing their cat inside, veterinarians were a key injunctive normative influence. In contrast, respondents who kept their cat outside exclusively rated descriptive norms as influential on their own behaviour.

Conclusions: Our results indicated a way forward for future advocacy campaigns. To increase the frequency of visitors bringing cats inside, future research should look at campaigns using veterinarians to advocate messages that emphasise the benefits to the cat of being inside or the positive impact on the owner. To target visitors who keep their cat outside exclusively, a normative campaign highlighting the actions of others bringing their cats inside at night may prove successful.

Implications: Given the impacts cats have on wildlife, conservation campaigns need to properly design communication campaigns to have the best chance at altering cat-owner behaviour. Our results can help guide this process.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Different cat diet between islands

Bonnaud, E., Palmas, P., Bourgeois, K., Ollier, S., Zarzoso-Lacoste, D., & Vidal, E. (2015). Island specificities matter: cat diet differs significantly between islands of a major breeding archipelago for a vulnerable endemic seabird. Biological Invasions, 1-15.

Domestic cats are one of the most widespread predators on islands worldwide and are responsible for numerous reductions and extinctions of species on islands. The three main islands of the Hyères Archipelago house one of the largest colonies of the Mediterranean endemic Yelkouan shearwater Puffinus yelkouan that has recently been up-listed by the IUCN to ‘vulnerable’. The main objectives of this study were to assess the diet of cats and to study the effect of cat predation on Yelkouan shearwater populations at the archipelago scale. The diet of cats was studied using scat analyses according to years and seasons for each island. Simultaneously, Yelkouan shearwater breeding success was monitored during a period of 8 years on Port-Cros and Porquerolles, and 3 years on Le Levant. Descriptive analyses and GLM were used to compare data gathered on each island. At the archipelago scale, cats preyed strongly upon introduced mammals and shearwaters. Surprisingly, large differences appeared in cats’ diet according to the island considered. The Yelkouan shearwater was the primary prey of cats on Le Levant, but secondary on Port-Cros and Porquerolles. Cat predation was mainly concentrated during the shearwater prospecting period, when birds arrive at the colonies and look for a mate (if they are not already paired) and a burrow before breeding. Consequently cat impact was low on shearwater breeding success. However, this study demonstrates that the cat management conducted on Port-Cros was positive for fledging success. The successful cat eradication on Port-Cros supports the need to continue working for Yelkouan shearwater conservation with Le Levant as a priority, because this is where the colonies are largest and predation on Yelkouan shearwaters is very high.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Watch: When the cat met the kiwi

Urban stray and feral animals in Detroit

Reese, L. A. (2015). The Dog Days of Detroit: Urban Stray and Feral Animals. City & Community, 14(2), 167-182.

This article details the extent and import of the stray and feral dog problem in the City of Detroit in the context of regime and network theories of governance. Using data drawn from a survey of animal welfare service providers, this article provides a description of the complex and essentially grass roots service provision network currently in place to address the problem. The primary cause of the roaming dog problem in the city is the poor economy and the problem is worse in the most distressed neighborhoods. Several factors serve as barriers to addressing the issue. First, the actual number of roaming dogs is a question of contention in the city. Second, weaknesses in the city governing system and scarce resources have limited the public response to the problem. As a result, services are provided by an unstable and fragmented network of nonprofit organizations largely located outside the city of Detroit itself.

Días de Perro de Detroit: Extravío y Animales Salvajes en la Ciudad

Este artículo examina la dimensión e importancia del problema del extravío de perros y los perros salvajes en la ciudad de Detroit en el marco de teorías de gobernanza de regímenes y de redes, dando una descripción de la compleja y principalmente popular red de servicio actual usada para enfrentar el problema, usando información de una encuesta de proveedores de servicios de bienestar animal y otras fuentes secundarias. Se argumenta que la causa primaria del problema de vagabundeo canino en la ciudad es la mala economía y que el problema es mayor en los barrios más necesitados. Sin embargo, varios factores han servido como impedimentos para enfrentar el problema. Primero, el número actual de perros vagabundos es tema de discusión en la ciudad. Segundo, debilidades en el sistema de gobierno de la ciudad y recursos escasos han limitado la respuesta gubernamental al problema. Como resultado, servicios son brindados por una red fragmentada e inestable de organizaciones sin fines de lucro ubicadas fuera de la ciudad de Detroit.
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