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Degrees of population-level susceptibility of Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species to predation by the introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cat (Felis catus)


Radford, JQ and Woinarski, JCZ and Legge, S and Baseler, M and Bentley, J and Burbidge, AA and Bode, M and Copley, P and Dexter, N and Dickman, CR and Gillespie, G and Hill, B and Johnson, CN and Kanowski, J and Latch, P and Letnic, M and Manning, A and Menkhorst, P and Mitchell, NJ and Moseby, K and Page, M and Ringma, J, Degrees of population-level susceptibility of Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species to predation by the introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cat (Felis catus), Wildlife Research, 45, (7) pp. 645-657. ISSN 1035-3712 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright CSIRO 2018. Journal compilation

DOI: doi:10.1071/WR18008


Context: Over the last 230 years, the Australian terrestrial mammal fauna has suffered a very high rate of decline and extinction relative to other continents. Predation by the introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cat (Felis catus) is implicated in many of these extinctions, and in the ongoing decline of many extant species.

Aims : To assess the degree to which Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species are susceptible at the population level to predation by the red fox and feral cat, and to allocate each species to a category of predator susceptibility.

Methods: We collated the available evidence and complemented this with expert opinion to categorise each Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species (extinct and extant) into one of four classes of population-level susceptibility to introduced predators (i.e. 'extreme', 'high', 'low' or 'not susceptible'). We then compared predator susceptibility with conservation status, body size and extent of arboreality; and assessed changes in the occurrence of species in different predator-susceptibility categories between 1788 and 2017.

Key results: Of 246 Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species (including extinct species), we conclude that 37 species are (or were) extremely predator-susceptible; 52 species are highly predator-susceptible; 112 species are of low susceptibility; and 42 species are not susceptible to predators. Confidence in assigning species to predator-susceptibility categories was strongest for extant threatened mammal species and for extremely predator-susceptible species. Extinct and threatened mammal species are more likely to be predator-susceptible than Least Concern species; arboreal species are less predator-susceptible than ground-dwelling species; and medium-sized species (35 g-3.5 kg) are more predator-susceptible than smaller or larger species.

Conclusions: The effective control of foxes and cats over large areas is likely to assist the population-level recovery of similar to 63 species - the number of extant species with extreme or high predator susceptibility - which represents similar to 29% of the extant Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal fauna.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:invasive species, conservation management, introduced predator-proof exclosures, introduced predator-free islands, wildlife management
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Biochemistry and cell biology
Research Field:Cell development, proliferation and death
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Other animal production and animal primary products
Objective Field:Animal adaptation to climate change
UTAS Author:Dickman, CR (Dr Christopher Dickman)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
UTAS Author:Mitchell, NJ (Miss Nicola Jane Mitchell)
ID Code:152083
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:47
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2022-08-11
Last Modified:2022-10-26

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