Rapid increase of Australian tropical savanna reptile abundance following exclusion of feral cats

Danielle Stokeld, Alaric Fisher, Tim Gentles, Brydie M. Hill, John C.Z. Woinarski, Stuart Young, Graeme R. Gillespie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Feral cats have been responsible, in part, for the extinction of many species of mammal, bird and reptile globally, especially on islands. Whilst there is extensive evidence of the predatory impacts of cats on mammals and birds, far less is known about their ecological impacts on reptiles, especially in continental situations. We conducted a field experiment to evaluate the impact of feral cats on terrestrial vertebrates in tropical savanna environments of northern Australia. Three experimental treatments were applied to six 64 ha plots to compare and contrast responses of reptile abundance and species richness to predator exclusion and the additive effects of frequent fire. Replicated pitfall-trapping was undertaken in each plot on seven sampling occasions between November 2013 and November 2015. We analysed relative abundance and species richness data using generalized linear mixed models. There was a significant increase in the abundance of reptiles over a two year period in cat-excluded plots with reptile abundance increasing at twice the rate in cat-exclusion plots compared with cat-accessible plots and there was an additive effect of time-since-fire. Cat exclusion had a positive effect on reptile species richness over time, however the evidence for this pattern was weak when seasonal variation was taken into account. Predation by cats, in synergy with other disturbance processes, could adversely impact reptile species and communities elsewhere in the world where feral cats have been established and warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume225
Early online date20 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Fingerprint

reptile
savanna
reptiles
savannas
cats
species richness
mammal
additive effect
species diversity
bird
mammals
ecological impact
birds
trapping
relative abundance
vertebrate
seasonal variation
predation
extinction
predator

Cite this

Stokeld, Danielle ; Fisher, Alaric ; Gentles, Tim ; Hill, Brydie M. ; Woinarski, John C.Z. ; Young, Stuart ; Gillespie, Graeme R. / Rapid increase of Australian tropical savanna reptile abundance following exclusion of feral cats. In: Biological Conservation. 2018 ; Vol. 225. pp. 213-221.
@article{21460a3659834fc2b93cb5d5fca43cd9,
title = "Rapid increase of Australian tropical savanna reptile abundance following exclusion of feral cats",
abstract = "Feral cats have been responsible, in part, for the extinction of many species of mammal, bird and reptile globally, especially on islands. Whilst there is extensive evidence of the predatory impacts of cats on mammals and birds, far less is known about their ecological impacts on reptiles, especially in continental situations. We conducted a field experiment to evaluate the impact of feral cats on terrestrial vertebrates in tropical savanna environments of northern Australia. Three experimental treatments were applied to six 64 ha plots to compare and contrast responses of reptile abundance and species richness to predator exclusion and the additive effects of frequent fire. Replicated pitfall-trapping was undertaken in each plot on seven sampling occasions between November 2013 and November 2015. We analysed relative abundance and species richness data using generalized linear mixed models. There was a significant increase in the abundance of reptiles over a two year period in cat-excluded plots with reptile abundance increasing at twice the rate in cat-exclusion plots compared with cat-accessible plots and there was an additive effect of time-since-fire. Cat exclusion had a positive effect on reptile species richness over time, however the evidence for this pattern was weak when seasonal variation was taken into account. Predation by cats, in synergy with other disturbance processes, could adversely impact reptile species and communities elsewhere in the world where feral cats have been established and warrants further investigation.",
keywords = "Feral cat, Invasive species, Predation, Predator-proof fence, Reptile",
author = "Danielle Stokeld and Alaric Fisher and Tim Gentles and Hill, {Brydie M.} and Woinarski, {John C.Z.} and Stuart Young and Gillespie, {Graeme R.}",
year = "2018",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.biocon.2018.06.025",
language = "English",
volume = "225",
pages = "213--221",
journal = "Biological Conservation",
issn = "0006-3207",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

Rapid increase of Australian tropical savanna reptile abundance following exclusion of feral cats. / Stokeld, Danielle; Fisher, Alaric; Gentles, Tim; Hill, Brydie M.; Woinarski, John C.Z.; Young, Stuart; Gillespie, Graeme R.

In: Biological Conservation, Vol. 225, 01.09.2018, p. 213-221.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Rapid increase of Australian tropical savanna reptile abundance following exclusion of feral cats

AU - Stokeld, Danielle

AU - Fisher, Alaric

AU - Gentles, Tim

AU - Hill, Brydie M.

AU - Woinarski, John C.Z.

AU - Young, Stuart

AU - Gillespie, Graeme R.

PY - 2018/9/1

Y1 - 2018/9/1

N2 - Feral cats have been responsible, in part, for the extinction of many species of mammal, bird and reptile globally, especially on islands. Whilst there is extensive evidence of the predatory impacts of cats on mammals and birds, far less is known about their ecological impacts on reptiles, especially in continental situations. We conducted a field experiment to evaluate the impact of feral cats on terrestrial vertebrates in tropical savanna environments of northern Australia. Three experimental treatments were applied to six 64 ha plots to compare and contrast responses of reptile abundance and species richness to predator exclusion and the additive effects of frequent fire. Replicated pitfall-trapping was undertaken in each plot on seven sampling occasions between November 2013 and November 2015. We analysed relative abundance and species richness data using generalized linear mixed models. There was a significant increase in the abundance of reptiles over a two year period in cat-excluded plots with reptile abundance increasing at twice the rate in cat-exclusion plots compared with cat-accessible plots and there was an additive effect of time-since-fire. Cat exclusion had a positive effect on reptile species richness over time, however the evidence for this pattern was weak when seasonal variation was taken into account. Predation by cats, in synergy with other disturbance processes, could adversely impact reptile species and communities elsewhere in the world where feral cats have been established and warrants further investigation.

AB - Feral cats have been responsible, in part, for the extinction of many species of mammal, bird and reptile globally, especially on islands. Whilst there is extensive evidence of the predatory impacts of cats on mammals and birds, far less is known about their ecological impacts on reptiles, especially in continental situations. We conducted a field experiment to evaluate the impact of feral cats on terrestrial vertebrates in tropical savanna environments of northern Australia. Three experimental treatments were applied to six 64 ha plots to compare and contrast responses of reptile abundance and species richness to predator exclusion and the additive effects of frequent fire. Replicated pitfall-trapping was undertaken in each plot on seven sampling occasions between November 2013 and November 2015. We analysed relative abundance and species richness data using generalized linear mixed models. There was a significant increase in the abundance of reptiles over a two year period in cat-excluded plots with reptile abundance increasing at twice the rate in cat-exclusion plots compared with cat-accessible plots and there was an additive effect of time-since-fire. Cat exclusion had a positive effect on reptile species richness over time, however the evidence for this pattern was weak when seasonal variation was taken into account. Predation by cats, in synergy with other disturbance processes, could adversely impact reptile species and communities elsewhere in the world where feral cats have been established and warrants further investigation.

KW - Feral cat

KW - Invasive species

KW - Predation

KW - Predator-proof fence

KW - Reptile

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85050077425&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.06.025

DO - 10.1016/j.biocon.2018.06.025

M3 - Article

VL - 225

SP - 213

EP - 221

JO - Biological Conservation

JF - Biological Conservation

SN - 0006-3207

ER -