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Individual hunting behaviour and prey specialisation in the house cat Felis catus: implications for conservation and management

By C. R. Dickman, T. M. Newsome

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Abstract

Predators are often classed as prey specialists if they eat a narrow range of prey types, or as generalists if they hunt multiple prey types. Yet, individual predators often exhibit sex, size, age or personality-related differences in their diets that may alter the impacts of predation on different prey groups. In this study, we asked whether the house cat Felis catus shows individuality and specialisation in its hunting behaviour and discuss the implications of such specialisation for prey conservation and management. We first examined the prey types killed by cats using information obtained from cat owners, and then presented data on cat hunting efficiency on different prey types from direct observations. Finally, we quantified dietary shifts in cats when densities of their preferred prey varied. Twenty-six cats that returned 10 or more prey items to their owners showed marked differences in prey preferences ( P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 173
Pages 76-87
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.021
Language English
Author Address Desert Ecology Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.chris.dickman@sydney.edu.au
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Bait
  4. Birds
  5. Carnivores
  6. Cats
  7. Conservation
  8. Diets
  9. Dwellings
  10. Endangered species
  11. Feral animals
  12. Hunting
  13. Impact
  14. Lagomorpha
  15. Leporidae
  16. Lizards
  17. Mammals
  18. natural enemies
  19. ontogeny
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. predation
  22. predators
  23. prey
  24. rabbits
  25. Rats
  26. Reptiles
  27. Research
  28. Rodents
  29. surveys
  30. variation
  31. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed