Ecological Research

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 897–908 | Cite as

Clues to the cause of the Tsushima leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis euptilura) decline from isotopic measurements in three species of Carnivora

  • Naho Mitani
  • Shozo Mihara
  • Nobuo Ishii
  • Hiroko Koike
Original Article


The estimated population of the Tsushima leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis euptilura is only 80–110 individuals. However, the cause of the population decline is not clear. We investigated temporal changes in the food habits of the cat and two other species of Carnivora (marten and weasel) inhabiting the Tsushima Islands by measuring δ13C and δ15N values in hair samples. Hair samples of the cat were collected not only from specimens and furs, but also from feces. The gathering of hair from cat feces was most efficient when the feces were collected in the spring. The food habit of male cats seemed to be more diverse and tended to comprise prey of higher trophic levels than the food habits of the females. The δ13C and δ15N measurements suggested that the trophic level of the food sources has been decreasing over the last several decades for the cat and weasel, but not for the marten. Increased consumption of prey from lower trophic levels in the food habit of the cat seems to be related to the decline of the cat population because these phenomena occurred simultaneously.


Leopard cat Isotopic measurements Trophic level Conservation 



We are grateful to the Ministry of the Environment for issuing permits to collect samples of the Tsushima leopard cat. Other samples for this study were obtained in cooperation with the National Science Museum, the Kitakyushu Museum of Natural History and Human History, the Osaka Museum of Natural History, the Historical Museum of Izuhara Town, the Mine Town Museum of History and Folklore, the Public Hall of Kamiagata Town, the Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore of Tsushima, and residents in Tsushima.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Naho Mitani
    • 1
  • Shozo Mihara
    • 2
  • Nobuo Ishii
    • 3
  • Hiroko Koike
    • 4
  1. 1.Japan Wildlife Research CenterTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Research Facility Center for Science and TechnologyUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.College of Arts and SciencesTokyo Woman’s Christian UniversityTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Graduate School of Social and Cultural StudiesKyushu University, FukuokaFukuoka CityJapan

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