, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 75-83

Feeding ecology of feral cats on a heterogeneous subtropical oceanic island (La Palma, Canarian Archipelago)

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Abstract

We found a total of 987 prey in the 500 scats of feral catsFelis silvestris catus Linnaeus, 1758 analyzed in the present study. Introduced mammals (rabbits, rats and mice) constituted the most important prey both in percentage and biomass. Reptiles were the second most important prey, being more frequent than birds and invertebrates. Mammals were the most frequently eaten group in all five main habitats of the island, being more frequent than the remainder of prey in the laurel forest. Rabbits appeared more often in the temperate forest, rats in the laurel forest and mice in the high mountain. Birds were more frequently captured in the three higher habitats (laurel and pine forest, and high mountain) than in the two lower ones (xerophytic shrub and temperate forest). Reptiles were preyed on less in the laurel forest than in the other main habitats. Morisita index indicates a high trophic overlap among the different habitats with the exception of the laurel forest which shows important differences from the other habitats. Levin’s niche-breadth was broader in the xerophytic shrub and narrower in the temperate forest, reaching intermediate levels in the other three main habitats. The results obtained in the present study evidence a general pattern in the trophic ecology among similar habitats in the different subtropical Canarian islands. However, some important differences exist that could be a function of the differential prey availability and composition in each ecosystem.

Associate Editor was Krzysztof Schmidt.