Polar Biology

, Volume 36, Issue 10, pp 1531–1536 | Cite as

Movements and space use of feral cats in Kerguelen archipelago: a pilot study with GPS data

  • Jodie Martin
  • Benjamin Rey
  • Jean-Baptiste Pons
  • Eugenia Natoli
  • Dominique Pontier
Short Note


The domestic cat has been introduced on several sub-Antarctic islands such as the Kerguelen archipelago (48°28′–50°S, 68°28′–70°35E), causing a worrying impact on the viability of some seabird populations. A better understanding of the biology of this introduced predator is needed to help design appropriate management actions. To investigate the effectiveness of a GPS study on feral cats living on the Kerguelen main island and to gain preliminary results on cat space use and fine-scale movement patterns, we fitted GPS collars on three young adult males and recorded cat location at a high frequency (every 5 min) for 2–3 weeks, during the austral summer. Home-range sizes varied from 0.30 to 0.73 km², with large overlaps in space but not in time. Cats were active during the warmest hours of the day, with a peak of activity around 2:00 p.m. This preliminary result suggests that trapping for management of the population should therefore yield the highest number of captures in the afternoon and before sunrise, when cats are more active. Our pilot study demonstrated the potential of using GPS to track feral cats in sub-Antarctic islands, opening up opportunities to get deep insights in the spatial ecology of these introduced predators.


Felis silvestris catus Activity rhythm Home range Sub-Antarctic islands 



We thank Léo Martin and Guillaume Chagneau for excellent field assistance in the data collection. This work was supported by the French Polar Institute (IPEV, programme no. 279) and the CNRS, ZA Programme “Environnement, Vie et Société’’. We acknowledge support from the Embassy of France in South Africa and the Claude Leon Foundation. We thank four anonymous referees for their helpful comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

300_2013_1365_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (80 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 80 kb)


  1. Benhamou S (2011) Dynamic approach to space and habitat use based on biased random bridges. PLoS ONE 6:e14592CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Calenge C (2006) The package adehabitat for the R software: a tool for the analysis of space and habitat use by animals. Ecol Model 197:516–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Derenne P (1976) Notes sur la biologie du chat haret de Kerguelen. Mammalia 40:531–595Google Scholar
  4. Germain E, Benhamou S, Poulle ML (2008) Spatio-temporal sharing between the European wildcat, the domestic cat and their hybrids. J Zool 276:195–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Goszczynski J, Krauze D, Gryz J (2009) Activity and exploration range of house cats in rural areas of central Poland. Folia Zool 58:363–371Google Scholar
  6. Hilmer SS, Algar D, Johnston M (2010) Opportunistic observation of predation of loggerhead turtle hatchlings by feral cats on Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia. J R Soc West Aust 93:141–146Google Scholar
  7. Hilton GM, Cuthbert RJ (2010) The catastrophic impact of invasive mammalian predators on birds of the UK Overseas Territories: a review and synthesis. Ibis 152:443–458CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jones E (1977) Ecology of the Feral Cat, Felis catus (L.), (Carnivora: Felidae) on Macquarie Island. Aust Wildl Res 4:249–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lebouvier M, Laparie M, Hullé M, Marais A, Cozic Y, Lalouette L, Vernon P, Candresse T, Frenot Y, Renault D (2011) The significance of the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen Islands for the assessment of the vulnerability of native communities to climate changes, alien insect invasions and plant viruses. Biol Invasions 13:1195–1208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Liberg O, Sandell M, Pontier D, Natoli E (2000) Density, spatial organisation and reproductive tactics in the domestic cat and other felids. In: Turner DC, Bateson PP (eds) The domestic cat: the biology of its behaviour, 2nd edn. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 119–147Google Scholar
  11. Moseby KE, Stott J, Crisp H (2009) Movement patterns of feral predators in an arid environment—implications for control through poison baiting. Wildl Res 36:422–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nilsen EB, Linnell JDC (2006) Intra-specific variation and taxa-sampling affects the home range—body mass relationship. Acta Theriol 51:225–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pascal M (1980) Structure et dynamique de la population de chats harets de l’archipel des Kerguelen. Mammalia 44:161–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Pontier D, Say L, Debias F, Bried J, Thioulouse J, Michol T, Natoli E (2002) The diet of feral Cats (Felis catus L.) at five sites on the Grande Terre, Kerguelen archipelago. Polar Biol 25:833–837Google Scholar
  15. R Development Core Team (2010) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. version 2.9.0. R foundation for statistical computing. Vienna, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  16. Read J, Eldridge S (2010) An optimised rapid detection technique for simultaneously monitoring activity of rabbits, cats, foxes and dingoes in the rangelands. Rangel J 32:389–394CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Say L, Gaillard JM, Pontier D (2002a) Spatio-temporal variation in cat population density in a sub-Antarctic environment. Polar Biol 25:90–95Google Scholar
  18. Say L, Devillard S, Natoli E, Pontier D (2002b) The mating system of feral cats (Felis catus L.) in a sub-Antarctic environment. Polar Biol 25:838–842Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jodie Martin
    • 1
  • Benjamin Rey
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jean-Baptiste Pons
    • 2
  • Eugenia Natoli
    • 4
  • Dominique Pontier
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for African Ecology, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandWitsSouth Africa
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie EvolutiveUniversité de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, UMR CNRS 5558VilleurbanneFrance
  3. 3.Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  4. 4.Azienda USL Rome D, Area Dipartimentale Sanità Pubblica VeterinariaVeterinary HospitalRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations