Rapid recolonisation of feral cats following intensive culling in a semi-isolated context

Type Article
Date 2020-12
Language English
Author(s) Palmas PaulineORCID1, 2, 3, Gouyet Raphaël1, Oedin Malik1, 4, Millon Alexandre5, Cassan Jean-Jérôme6, Kowi Jenny6, Bonnaud Elsa2, Vidal Eric1, 7
Affiliation(s) 1 : Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie marine et continentale (IMBE), Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, Centre IRD de Nouméa, BPA5, 98848, Nouméa cedex, New Caledonia, France
2 : Ecologie Systématique Evolution, Univ. Paris-Sud, CNRS, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, 91400, Orsay, France
3 : Univ. Polynesie Francaise, Ifremer, Ilm, Ird, Eio Umr 241, Tahiti, French Polynesia
4 : Institut Agronomique Néo-Calédonien (IAC), Equipe ARBOREAL (AgricultuRe BiOdiveRsité Et vALorisation) BP73, Païta, New Caledonia, France
5 : Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Écologie marine et continentale (IMBE), Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, Europôle de l’Arbois, BP 80, 13545, Aix-en-Provence, France
6 : Direction du Développement Economique et de l’Environnement (DDEE), Koohnê (Koné), Province Nord, New Caledonia, France
7 : UMR ENTROPIE (IRD-Université de la Réunion-CNRS), Laboratoire d’Excellence Labex-CORAIL, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, BP A5, 98848, Nouméa Cedex, New Caledonia, France
Source Neobiota (1619-0033) (Pensoft Publishers), 2020-12 , N. 63 , P. 177-200
DOI 10.3897/neobiota.63.58005
WOS© Times Cited 17
Keyword(s) Camera trap monitoring, invasive predator, invasive species control, live-trapping, SECR analysis

nvasive feral cats threaten biodiversity at a global scale. Mitigating feral cat impacts and reducing their populations has therefore become a global conservation priority, especially on islands housing high endemic biodiversity. The New Caledonian archipelago is a biodiversity hotspot showing outstanding terrestrial species richness and endemism. Feral cats prey upon at least 44 of its native vertebrate species, 20 of which are IUCN Red-listed threatened species. To test the feasibility and efficiency of culling, intensive culling was conducted in a peninsula of New Caledonia (25.6 km²) identified as a priority site for feral cat management. Live-trapping over 38 days on a 10.6 km² area extirpated 36 adult cats, an estimated 44% of the population. However, three months after culling, all indicators derived from camera-trapping (e.g., abundance, minimum number of individuals and densities) suggest a return to pre-culling levels. Compensatory immigration appears to explain this unexpectedly rapid population recovery in a semi-isolated context. Since culling success does not guarantee a long-term effect, complementary methods like fencing and innovative automated traps need to be used, in accordance with predation thresholds identified through modelling, to preserve island biodiversity. Testing general assumptions on cat management, this article contributes important insights into a challenging conservation issue for islands and biodiversity hotspots worldwide.

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