Social and genetic analysis of a population of free-living cats (Felis catus L.) exploiting a resource-rich habitat

Elizabeth Denny*, Paul Yakovlevich, Mark D B Eldridge, Chris Dickman

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Free-living cats (Felis catus L.) exploiting a waste-disposal site in rural Australia were studied for two years to investigate population structure and dynamics, and the relatedness of constituent individuals. The density of the population was equivalent to 700-750 cats km-2, the sex ratio was heavily skewed towards males, breeding occurred from July to April, and kitten survival rates were low. A combination of observational data, biometrics and microsatellite loci analyses was used to assess the relatedness of individuals in the population; these methods yielded highly congruent results. Thus, a female kin-group of three was identified, there was no female immigration, the average relatedness amongst the population was high and there was no indication of male dominance. The results indicate that cats at the site formed a tightly structured group, rather than an ad hoc collection of individuals. The stable, resource-rich habitat of waste-disposal sites may generally support high densities of group-forming cats in rural Australia, and pose broad-scale but previously unrecognised problems for effective management of free-living cats.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)405-413
    Number of pages9
    JournalWildlife Research
    Volume29
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

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