Experimental evidence that feral cats cause local extirpation of small mammals in Australia's tropical savannas

  • Published source details Frank A.S., Johnson C.N., Potts J.M., Fisher A., Lawes M.J., Woinarski J.C.Z., Tuft K., Radford I.J., Gordon I.J., Collis M.A., Legge S. & Frid C. (2014) Experimental evidence that feral cats cause local extirpation of small mammals in Australia's tropical savannas. Journal of Applied Ecology, 51, 1486-1493.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use fencing to exclude predators or other problematic species

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Use fencing to exclude predators or other problematic species

    A replicated, paired sites, controlled study in 2011–2013 in two tropical savanna sites in the Northern Territory, Australia (Frank et al. 2014) found that fencing to exclude cats Felis sylvestris catus prevented the local extirpation of released long-haired rats Rattus villosissimus. After 18 months, rats persisted in enclosures not accessible to cats (3.1–8.7 rats/enclosure) but were absent in compartments accessible to cats (0.0 rats/enclosure). Two 12.5-ha enclosures were established 13 km apart in Wongalara Wildlife Sanctuary. One half of each enclosure was surrounded by a 0.9-m-high fence that allowed access to cats and dingoes Canis dingo and the other half by a 2-m electrified ‘floppy-top’ fence that excluded cats and dingoes. Enclosures had a 40-cm barrier that prevented rats from moving in or out. Fifteen to 23 long-haired rats were introduced to each of the four compartments in October 2011 or April 2012. Rat abundance was monitored until June 2013 by live-trapping at two-month intervals (from 2 or 6 months after release) using 36 box traps in each compartment, deployed over 2-4 consecutive nights.

    (Summarised by: Ricardo Rocha)

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