Project: 1.1

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.

This project involves the following subprojects:

Image: European Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) by Harley Kingston/Flickr (CC BY 2.0
Project Partners