Underlying impacts of invasive cats on islands: not only a question of predation
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- Medina, F.M., Bonnaud, E., Vidal, E. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2014) 23: 327. doi:10.1007/s10531-013-0603-4
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The domestic cat has been introduced on most islands worldwide, where it has established feral populations and is currently known to be one of the worst invasive mammalian predators. Predation is the strongest deleterious effect of cats on wildlife, inducing a direct negative impact on population size and dynamics, breeding success and changes in species assemblages. Direct predation is not the only damaging impact on native wildlife, since cats can be responsible for other poorly-documented underlying ecological impacts, like competition, hybridization, disease transmission, ecological process alteration, and behavioral change. Here, we pinpoint relevant examples of these ecological impacts, by searching for accurate data from published literature. We used electronic databases covering most of the world islands where the effects of cats were documented. Knowledge of these impacts can be of great importance to preserve insular ecosystem functions and persistence of endangered native species. We emphasize that direct predation processes should not be the only factor considered in the management of invasive cats on islands.