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Enumerating a continental-scale threat: How many feral cats are in Australia?

Legge, Sarah; Murphy, Brett P.; McGregor, H; Woinarski, John C.Z.; Augusteyn, John; Ballard, G; Baseler, M; Buckmaster, T; Dickman, CR; Doherty, Tim S.; Edwards, G

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Feral cats (Felis catus) have devastated wildlife globally. In Australia, feral cats are implicated in most recent mammal extinctions and continue to threaten native species. Cat control is a high-profile priority for Australian policy, research and management. To develop the evidence-base to support this priority, we first review information on cat presence/absence on Australian islands and mainland cat-proof exclosures, finding that cats occur across >99.8% of Australia's land area. Next, we...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorLegge, Sarah
dc.contributor.authorMurphy, Brett P.
dc.contributor.authorMcGregor, H
dc.contributor.authorWoinarski, John C.Z.
dc.contributor.authorAugusteyn, John
dc.contributor.authorBallard, G
dc.contributor.authorBaseler, M
dc.contributor.authorBuckmaster, T
dc.contributor.authorDickman, CR
dc.contributor.authorDoherty, Tim S.
dc.contributor.authorEdwards, G
dc.date.accessioned2021-06-16T00:11:14Z
dc.identifier.issn0006-3207
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/237376
dc.description.abstractFeral cats (Felis catus) have devastated wildlife globally. In Australia, feral cats are implicated in most recent mammal extinctions and continue to threaten native species. Cat control is a high-profile priority for Australian policy, research and management. To develop the evidence-base to support this priority, we first review information on cat presence/absence on Australian islands and mainland cat-proof exclosures, finding that cats occur across >99.8% of Australia's land area. Next, we collate 91 site-based feral cat density estimates in Australia and examine the influence of environmental and geographic influences on density. We extrapolate from this analysis to estimate that the feral cat population in natural environments fluctuates between 1.4 million (95% confidence interval: 1.0–2.3 million) after continent-wide droughts, to 5.6 million (95% CI: 2.5–11 million) after extensive wet periods. We estimate another 0.7 million feral cats occur in Australia's highly modified environments (urban areas, rubbish dumps, intensive farms). Feral cat densities are higher on small islands than the mainland, but similar inside and outside conservation land. Mainland cats reach highest densities in arid/semi-arid areas after wet periods. Regional variation in cat densities corresponds closely with attrition rates for native mammal fauna. The overall population estimate for Australia's feral cats (in natural and highly modified environments), fluctuating between 2.1 and 6.3 million, is lower than previous estimates, and Australian feral cat densities are lower than reported for North America and Europe. Nevertheless, cats inflict severe impacts on Australian fauna, reflecting the sensitivity of Australia's native species to cats and reinforcing that policy, research and management to reduce their impacts is critical.
dc.description.sponsorshipAustralian Research Council (BF); Australian Research Council LP100100033 (for HH); Australian Research Council LP100100033 (for CNJ); Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment (BF); A. Stewart (for PMcD); Parks Victoria's Research Partners Program, Department of Land, Water and Planning Victoria, J. Wright (for DN, ER); J. White, R. Cooke (for AR, DRS); South West Catchments Council (for JS).
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.publisherElsevier
dc.rights© 2016 Elsevier Ltd
dc.sourceBiological Conservation
dc.subjectFeral cat
dc.subjectDensity
dc.subjectIntroduced predator
dc.subjectIsland
dc.subjectPest management
dc.subjectInvasive species
dc.titleEnumerating a continental-scale threat: How many feral cats are in Australia?
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume206
dc.date.issued2017
local.identifier.absfor050103 - Invasive Species Ecology
local.identifier.absfor050206 - Environmental Monitoring
local.identifier.ariespublicationa383154xPUB4741
local.publisher.urlhttps://www.elsevier.com/en-au
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationLegge, Sarah, College of Science, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationMurphy, Brett P., Charles Darwin University
local.contributor.affiliationMcGregor, H, Australian Wildlife Conservancy
local.contributor.affiliationWoinarski, John C.Z., Charles Darwin University
local.contributor.affiliationAugusteyn, John, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
local.contributor.affiliationBallard, G, Biosecurity NSW
local.contributor.affiliationBaseler, M, Department of the Environment
local.contributor.affiliationBuckmaster, T, University of Canberra
local.contributor.affiliationDickman, CR, University of Canberra
local.contributor.affiliationDoherty, Tim S., Deakin University
local.contributor.affiliationEdwards, G, University of Canberra
local.description.embargo2099-12-31
dc.relationhttp://purl.org/au-research/grants/arc/LP100100033
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage293
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage303
local.identifier.doi10.1016/j.biocon.2016.11.032
dc.date.updated2020-11-23T10:29:20Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-85008423066
local.identifier.thomsonID000394065900038
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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