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Cats are a key threatening factor to the survival of local populations of native small mammals in Australia's tropical savannas: evidence from translocation trials with Rattus tunneyi

Citation

Tuft, K and Legge, S and Frank, ASK and James, AI and May, T and Page, E and Radford, IJ and Woinarski, JCZ and Fisher, A and Lawes, MJ and Gordon, IJ and Johnson, CN, Cats are a key threatening factor to the survival of local populations of native small mammals in Australia's tropical savannas: evidence from translocation trials with Rattus tunneyi, Wildlife Research, 48, (7) pp. 654-662. ISSN 1035-3712 (2021) [Refereed Article]


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DOI: doi:10.1071/WR20193

Abstract

Context. Invasive predators are a key threat to biodiversity worldwide. In Australia, feral cats are likely to be responsible for many extinctions of native mammal species in the south and centre of the continent.

Aims. Here we examine the effect of feral cats on native rodent populations in the second of two translocation experiments.

Methods. In a wild-to-wild translocation, we introduced pale field rats, Rattus tunneyi, whose populations are declining in the wild, into two pairs of enclosures where accessibility by feral cats was manipulated.

Key results. Individual rats translocated into enclosures accessible to cats were rapidly extirpated after cats were first detected visiting the enclosures. Rats in the enclosure not exposed to cats were 6.2 times more likely to survive than those exposed to cats. Two individual cats were responsible for the deaths of all but 1 of 18 cat-accessible rats. Rats in the site with denser ground cover persisted better than in the site with more open cover.

Conclusions. These results are consistent with our previous study of a different native rat species in the same experimental setup, and provide further evidence that, even at low densities, feral cats can drive local populations of small mammals to extinction.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:feral cat, extinction, threatened species, predation pressure, small mammal populations
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 welfare
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:152086
Year Published:2021
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2022-08-11
Last Modified:2022-08-19
Downloads:0

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