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Feral cats are better killers in open habitats, revealed by animal-borne video


McGregor, H and Legge, S and Jones, ME and Johnson, CN, Feral cats are better killers in open habitats, revealed by animal-borne video, PLoS ONE, 10, (8) Article e0133915. ISSN 1932-6203 (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

2015 McGregor et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0133915


One of the key gaps in understanding the impacts of predation by small mammalian predators on prey is how habitat structure affects the hunting success of small predators, such as feral cats. These effects are poorly understood due to the difficulty of observing actual hunting behaviours. We attached collar-mounted video cameras to feral cats living in a tropical savanna environment in northern Australia, and measured variation in hunting success among different microhabitats (open areas, dense grass and complex rocks). From 89 hours of footage, we recorded 101 hunting events, of which 32 were successful. Of these kills, 28% were not eaten. Hunting success was highly dependent on microhabitat structure surrounding prey, increasing from 17% in habitats with dense grass or complex rocks to 70% in open areas. This research shows that habitat structure has a profound influence on the impacts of small predators on their prey. This has broad implications for management of vegetation and disturbance processes (like fire and grazing) in areas where feral cats threaten native fauna. Maintaining complex vegetation cover can reduce predation rates of small prey species from feral cat predation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:predation, habitat structure, predator-prey relationships, threatened species
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Wildlife and habitat management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:McGregor, H (Dr Hugh McGregor)
UTAS Author:Jones, ME (Professor Menna Jones)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:102544
Year Published:2015
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (LP100100033)
Web of Science® Times Cited:137
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2015-08-27
Last Modified:2018-03-17
Downloads:264 View Download Statistics

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