Importance of scrub–pastureland mosaics for wild-living cats occurrence in a Mediterranean area: implications for the conservation of the wildcat (Felis silvestris)
- Cite this article as:
- Lozano, J., Virgós, E., Malo, A. et al. Biodiversity and Conservation (2003) 12: 921. doi:10.1023/A:1022821708594
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The European wildcat (Felis silvestris) is a threatened species in Europe. Suitable management of forests has been considered crucial for its conservation in Europe. However, this recommendation may not be general due to the lack of studies that test these hypotheses in the Mediterranean area, where landscapes are very different from those of central-north Europe. In this study, wild-living cat habitat associations were analyzed by means of scat surveys in 78 areas distributed in the four main vegetation types of the Mediterranean area of central Spain, where feral cat populations are probably scarce and restricted. Results show higher occurrences of wild-living cats in landscapes covered by scrub–pastureland mosaics rather than forests. Several applied recommendations are given: (1) to include the scrub–pastureland mosaics as protected habitats for wildcats; (2) to encourage further studies about the importance of this habitat in other areas; (3) to avoid the extensive scrubland removal associated with management practices against fires or infrastructure development; and (4) to promote land management practices that enhance these mosaics, and to use shrub species in the reforestation programmes founded by the European Agricultural Policy.