Impacts and management options for introduced predators
Project Leaders: Sarah Legge, John Woinarski
The conservation problem
Feral cats and foxes have caused many species extinctions and remain a serious threat to Australia’s vertebrates, especially its mammals. Although
we have a range of options for controlling foxes at large scales, effectively controlling cats has been a trickier problem, because the usual fox control
methods do not work well on cats.
How this research is addressing the problem
This project is improving our understanding of cat impacts, and how to control those impacts. It has produced the first estimate for the size of the
feral cat population in Australia, and identified some of the causes for variation in cat density at a continental scale. The project team has collated
and analysed large and diverse sets of field data, including from other TSR Hub projects, to measure predation rates of cats on birds, reptiles and
mammals, and to identify the ecological traits that make some species more vulnerable to cat predation than others. The project is also documenting
sites where mammal species susceptible to cat and fox predation are best-protected, so conservation action can be directed towards the species most
urgently in need of extra help.
The project includes several field components designed to test whether different cat control methods are effective at protecting threatened species,
in environments as diverse as the Pilbara, South Australia and Queensland.
What we aim to collectively achieve through this research
The research aims to improve the evidence base for cat impacts, improve our understanding of which species are most heavily affected by cats, what
sorts of cat density they can withstand, and therefore what kinds of management (e.g., complete cat/fox exclusion, poison-baiting, habitat management
including fire, grazing and dingo management) are the most cost-effective for maintaining a particular species in the landscape.