Occupancy of the invasive feral cat varies with habitat complexity

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Abstract

© 2016 Hohnen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The domestic cat (Felis catus) is an invasive exotic in many locations around the world and is thought to be a key factor driving recent mammal declines across northern Australia. Many mammal species native to this region now persist only in areas with high topographic complexity, provided by features such as gorges or escarpments. Do mammals persist in these habitats because cats occupy them less, or despite high cat occupancy? We show that occupancy of feral cats was lower in mammal-rich habitats of high topographic complexity. These results support the idea that predation pressure by feral cats is a factor contributing to the collapse of mammal communities across northern Australia. Managing impacts of feral cats is a global conser vation challenge. Conservation actions such as choosing sites for small mammal reintroductions may be more successful if variation in cat occupancy with landscape features is taken into account.

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Hohnen, R., Tuft, K., McGregor, H. W., Legge, S., Radford, I. J., & Johnson, C. N. (2016). Occupancy of the invasive feral cat varies with habitat complexity. PLoS ONE, 11(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152520

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