Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 829–846 | Cite as

A review on the impacts of feral cats (Felis silvestriscatus) in the Canary Islands: implications for the conservation of its endangered fauna

Review Paper

Abstract

Feral cats have been directly responsible for the extinction of numerous species on islands worldwide, including endemic species of mammals, birds and reptiles. The diet of feral cats in the main habitats of the Canary Islands, as generally occurred on oceanic islands, is mainly composed of introduced mammals, and native species of birds, reptiles and insects. The impact of feral cat upon the endangered species was assessed by evaluating their relative abundance in the cats’ diet and by considering their current conservation status. A total of 68 different preys were identified at species level in all studies carried out in the Canary Islands (5 mammals, 16 birds, 15 reptiles and 32 invertebrates). From all the species preyed by feral cats in the Canary Islands, only four of them are considered threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: one endemic bird Saxicola dacotiae and three endemic giant lizards, Gallotia simonyi, Gallotia intermedia, and Gallotia gomerana. Although some efforts on management control have been carried out, it is necessary to enforce these conservation activities on those areas of Tenerife, La Gomera and El Hierro where giant lizards are still present. Furthermore some local areas where endangered bird species are highly predated should be protected. Nevertheless, it is important to take into account the presence of other introduced species such as rats, mice or rabbits in order to avoid problems derived from the hyperpredation process and mesopredator release effect.

Keywords

Canary Islands Endangered species Felis silvestriscatus Food habits Island conservation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Consejería de Medio Ambiente, Cabildo Insular de La PalmaSanta Cruz de La PalmaSpain
  2. 2.Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC)La Laguna, TenerifeSpain

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