Application of genetic and Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture analyses to design adaptive feral cat control in a large inhabited island - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles NeoBiota Year : 2022

Application of genetic and Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture analyses to design adaptive feral cat control in a large inhabited island

Abstract

Faunas of oceanic islands have a high proportion of endemic species which contribute to the uniqueness of island communities. Island species are particularly naïve and vulnerable to alien predators, such as cats (Felis catus). On large, inhabited islands, where the complete eradication of feral cat populations is not considered feasible, control represents the best management option to lower their detrimental effects on native fauna. The first objective of our study was to investigate population genetics of feral cats of Réunion Island. The second objective was to understand the space use of feral cats established near the breeding colonies of the two endemic and endangered seabirds of Réunion Island, the Barau’s Petrel (Pterodroma baraui) and the Mascarene Petrel (Pseudobulweria aterrima). We evaluated genetic diversity, population structure and gene flow amongst six groups of feral cats located at a maximum of 10 km from known petrel colonies. We also analysed the behaviour and space use of one of these feral cat groups using camera-trap data and Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture (SECR) models. Genetic analyses revealed that feral cats were structured in three genetic clusters explained mostly by the island topography. Two clusters were observed at five sampled sites, suggesting high connectivity amongst these sites. The last cluster was found in only one site, suggesting high isolation. This site was a remote mountain area located in the vicinity of one of the main Barau’s Petrel colonies. The behavioural study was conducted on this isolated feral cat population. Mark recapture analysis suggested that feral cats were present at low density and had large home ranges, which is probably explained by reduced food availability. Finally, we make several recommendations for refining feral cat management programmes on inhabited islands.
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hal-04047191 , version 1 (27-03-2023)

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Claire-Cécile Juhasz, Naïs Avargues, Laurence Humeau, David Ringler, Patrick Pinet, et al.. Application of genetic and Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture analyses to design adaptive feral cat control in a large inhabited island. NeoBiota, 2022, 79, pp.51 - 85. ⟨10.3897/neobiota.79.87726⟩. ⟨hal-04047191⟩
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