, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 241-250

Trophic habits of feral cats in the high mountain shrublands of the Macaronesian islands (NW Africa, Atlantic Ocean)

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Abstract

Feral cats Felis catus Linnaeus, 1758 have contributed to the extinction of numerous native species on islands, which are clearly sources of global biodiversity. We studied the diet of this introduced predator in the Madeira and Cape Verde archipelagos, which harbour important colonies of endangered seabirds in the high mountain habitats, and compared the results with those obtained in the same habitat in the Canary Islands, Macaronesian archipelago. On Madeira, 461 prey were identified from 143 scat groups. Mammals, overall mice, constituted the basic diet appearing in 95% of cat scats. On Fogo (Cape Verde), 657 prey items were obtained from 145 scats, and mammals were also the most important prey, reaching a frequency of occurrence of 88%. Although introduced mammals were the main prey category on all Macaronesian islands, we observed variation in feral cat diet among these islands. Birds were more frequently consumed on Madeira, lizards on Tenerife (Canaries) and invertebrates on Fogo. No specific differences were observed in relation to La Palma. We suggest that the diet composition on these islands varies according to the respective availability of the different prey types.

Associate editor was Krzysztof Schmidt.