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 journalArticle

28 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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