Australian native mammals recognize and respond to alien predators: a meta-analysis

Peter B. Banks, Alexandra J. R. Carthey, Jenna P. Bytheway

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Prey naiveté is a failure to recognize novel predators and thought to cause exaggerated impacts of alien predators on native wildlife. Yet there is equivocal evidence in the literature for native prey naiveté towards aliens. To address this, we conducted a meta-analysis of Australian mammal responses to native and alien predators. Australia has the world's worst record of extinction and declines of native mammals, largely owing to two alien predators introduced more than 150 years ago: the feral cat, Felis catus, and European red fox, Vulpes vulpes. Analysis of 94 responses to predator cues shows that Australian mammals consistently recognize alien foxes as a predation threat, possibly because of thousands of years of experience with another canid predator, the dingo, Canis lupus dingo. We also found recognition responses towards cats; however, in four of the seven studies available, these responses were of risk-taking behaviour rather than antipredator behaviour. Our results suggest that a simple failure to recognize alien predators is not behind the ongoing exaggerated impacts of alien predators in Australia. Instead, our results highlight an urgent need to better understand the appropriateness of antipredator responses in prey towards alien predators in order to understand native prey vulnerability.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20180857
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B : biological sciences
    Issue number1885
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2018


    • prey naivety
    • alien species
    • predator recognition
    • meta-analysis
    • feral cat
    • red fox


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