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Using Genetics to Evaluate the Success of a Feral Cat (Felis catus) Control Program in North-Western Australia

By Saul Cowen, Lucy Clausen, Dave Algar, Sarah Comer

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

The feral cat has been implicated in the decline and extinction of many species worldwide and a range of strategies have been devised for its control. A five-year control program using the aerial broadcast of toxic Eradicat® baits was undertaken at Fortescue Marsh in the Pilbara region of north-western Australia, for the protection of biodiversity in this important wetland area. This program has been shown to have had a significant detrimental effect on cats in this landscape, but the long-term impact is difficult to ascertain. We assessed population genetics across three cohorts of feral cats sampled as part of the control program. We also compared cat populations in natural habitats and around human infrastructure. A key challenge in any study of wild animal populations is small sample sizes and feral cats are particularly difficult to capture and sample. The results of this study superficially appear to suggest promising trends but were limited by sample size and many were not statistically significant. We find that the use of genetic techniques to monitor the impact of invasive species control programs is potentially useful, but ensuring adequate sample sizes over a long enough time-frame will be critical to the success of such studies.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 12
Pages 15
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9121050
URL https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/9/12/1050
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal roles
  2. Australia
  3. Cats
  4. Genetic diversity
  5. Invasive species
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. population control
  10. stray animals
Badges
  1. open access