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The effects of feral cats on insular wildlife: the Club-Med syndrome

By:
and
Edited by:
R.M. Timm

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Abstract

Domestic cats have been introduced to many of the world‘s islands where they have been particularly devastating to insular wildlife which, in most cases, evolved in the absence of terrestrial predatory mammals and feline diseases. We review the effects of predation, feline diseases, and the life history characteristics of feral cats and their prey that have contributed to the extirpation and extinction of many insular vertebrate species. The protozoan Toxoplasma gondii is a persistent land-based zoonotic pathogen hosted by cats that is known to cause mortality in several insular bird species. It also enters marine environments in cat feces where it can cause the mortality of marine mammals. Feral cats remain widespread on islands throughout the world and are frequently subsidized in colonies which caretakers often assert have little negative effect on native wildlife. However, population genetics, home range, and movement studies all suggest that there are no locations on smaller islands where these cats cannot penetrate within two generations. While the details of past vertebrate extinctions were rarely documented during contemporary time, a strong line of evidence is emerging that the removal of feral cats from islands can rapidly facilitate the recolonization of extirpated species, particularly seabirds. Islands offer unique, mostly self-contained ecosystems in which to conduct controlled studies of the effects of feral cats on wildlife, having implications for continental systems. The response of terrestrial wildlife such as passerine birds, small mammals, and herptiles still needs more thorough long-term monitoring and documentation after the removal of feral cats.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Conference Paper
Publication Subtype:
Conference Paper
Title:
The effects of feral cats on insular wildlife: the Club-Med syndrome
Volume
25
Year Published:
2012
Language:
English
Publisher:
University of California, Davis
Contributing office(s):
Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description:
7 p.
Larger Work Type:
Book
Larger Work Subtype:
Conference publication
Larger Work Title:
Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference
First page:
76
Last page:
82