Strength of evidence for the effects of feral cats on insular wildlife: The Club Med Syndrome Part II

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Abstract

Various types of evidence have been promulgated as proof for the effects of feral cats on wildlife, typically including numerous studies on predation inferred from diet, mortality attributed to pathogens, and photographic or videographic documentation. The strength of these types of evidence is often short of conclusive. For example, studies of predation inferred from diet provide weak evidence for two reasons: 1) they cannot differentiate depredation from scavenging by feral cats, and 2) they cannot address population-level effects on wildlife because it is rarely understood if mortality acts in compensatory or additive manner. Likewise, pathogens may cause mortality of individuals, but population-level effects of pathogens are rarely known. Photographic or videographic documentation provides direct ‘smoking gun’ evidence that may be useful for positive identification of depredation by cats, or identification of prey designated as threatened or endangered species. However, the most direct and compelling evidence comes from examples where feral cats have been entirely removed from islands. In many cases, several species of seabirds as well as other wildlife have recovered after the complete removal of cats. Where possible, the experimental removal of cats would provide the most conclusive proof of effects on wildlife populations. In other cases where cat removal is not feasible, modeling based on predation rates and life history parameters of species may be the only means of assessing population-level effects on wildlife. Understanding population-level effects of feral cats on wildlife will ultimately be necessary to resolve long-standing wildlife management issues.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Strength of evidence for the effects of feral cats on insular wildlife: The Club Med Syndrome Part II
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher University of California, Davis
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description 5 p.
First page 211
Last page 216
Conference Title 26th Vertebrate Pest Conference
Conference Location Waikoloa, HI
Conference Date March 3, 2014
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N