Predation of insects by feral cats (Felis silvestris catus L., 1758) on an oceanic island (La Palma, Canary Island)
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Predation of insects by feral cats (Felis silvestris catus) on a heterogeneous oceanic island (La Palma, Canary Islands) was studied. A total of 127 invertebrates were identified in the analysis of 500 scats (100 from each habitat of the Island). Invertebrates appear in 18.00% of the scats, representing an insignificant percentage of the total consumed biomass by feral cats on La Palma Island (0.05%). Insects were the most common invertebrate prey both in percentage of occurrence (90.6%) and invertebrate biomass (93.53%), with a total of 115 prey items. Orthoptera, Lepidoptera and Coleoptera were the main prey groups. Among the five main habitats present in La Palma Island, the temperate forest shows the lowest consumption of invertebrates, although insect consumption did not show statistical differences. However Orthoptera and Lepidoptera were more frequently preyed on in the pine forest and in the xerophytic shrub, respectively. Moreover, applying the Simplified Morisita index, a different insect composition of the diet was observed among habitats. Although, none of insects predated by feral cats are threatened, the identification of invertebrate component of the feral cats’ diet is an important tool for the correct understanding of predation significance and to prevent damage to endangered insect species.