Can Australian Prey Animals Adapt to Cats

catapault

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An article about a curious project to see if small Australian animals can adapt to the presence of cats.

Article here: The scientists releasing cats in Australia

My take-away is that the experimental protocol has test subjects that survive were the more wary of the group. Whether this can be passed on to their offspring is the big question. And seeking to have them "evolve" is a stretch.

What do you think?
 

Kieka

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Some form of felines are natural predators in most of the world. Feline variations have out survived Canine predators in more environments showing the ambush predator model is very successful. In all those areas there are prey animals who survive and reproduce. It's a natural balance and with the main natural predator killed off in Australia years ago (the carnivore marsupial, Tasmanian tiger. There are still dingos but my understanding is the tigers were more impactful) the ecosystem is probably out of balance. I know people get upset about cats killing animals, but with one of the natural predators gone for a while I am sure some of those populations have gone crazy as a result. Sometimes that can mean literally when those who are weaker survive when in past generations they wouldn't have reproduced. My guess would be most of those populations won't need a true evolution but rather to regain the engrained instincts the they have lost since the Tasmanian tigers were killed off. The question is more so if humans can tolerate it if the cats accidentally kill off some species that can't adapt quickly enough.
 

mani

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Some form of felines are natural predators in most of the world. Feline variations have out survived Canine predators in more environments showing the ambush predator model is very successful. In all those areas there are prey animals who survive and reproduce. It's a natural balance and with the main natural predator killed off in Australia years ago (the carnivore marsupial, Tasmanian tiger. There are still dingos but my understanding is the tigers were more impactful) the ecosystem is probably out of balance. I know people get upset about cats killing animals, but with one of the natural predators gone for a while I am sure some of those populations have gone crazy as a result. Sometimes that can mean literally when those who are weaker survive when in past generations they wouldn't have reproduced. My guess would be most of those populations won't need a true evolution but rather to regain the engrained instincts the they have lost since the Tasmanian tigers were killed off. The question is more so if humans can tolerate it if the cats accidentally kill off some species that can't adapt quickly enough.
Even if native animal populations went crazy after the demise of the Tasmanian Tiger, there were very few of them in the past 2000 years. They struggled on but human habitation seems to have caused their final demise.

I haven't had time to read the article and take it all in, but I have a huge gut reaction - please do not introduce more feral cats. Perhaps there is a spark of scientific reasoning, but the repercussions are so great. Cats survive extraordinarily well in the Australian Outback.
 

Willowy

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Cats survive extraordinarily well in the Australian Outback.
That's one thing that's kind of odd, to me. In Australia, the feral cats live even in the middle of nowhere, places with no people for hundreds of miles. But in the US, feral cats don't generally live places with no humans, no matter how good the hunting is there. I wonder why the Australian cats adatped that way.

It's an interesting study but I don't know how they would manage to "train" wild animals to fear cats.
 

Kieka

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Even if native animal populations went crazy after the demise of the Tasmanian Tiger, there were very few of them in the past 2000 years. They struggled on but human habitation seems to have caused their final demise.

I haven't had time to read the article and take it all in, but I have a huge gut reaction - please do not introduce more feral cats. Perhaps there is a spark of scientific reasoning, but the repercussions are so great. Cats survive extraordinarily well in the Australian Outback.
If I understood it right, they aren't planning to introduce more cats just stop killing the cats there are (or be less aggressive in the culling). They describe an experiment where they boxed in a small population of prey animals with some cats. Waited a few years and repeated with equal parts decensdents of the original population and fresh population. The original population had a greater survival rate. Lending to the idea that in a few generations the prey animals learned to start avoiding cats.
 

Kieka

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That's one thing that's kind of odd, to me. In Australia, the feral cats live even in the middle of nowhere, places with no people for hundreds of miles. But in the US, feral cats don't generally live places with no humans, no matter how good the hunting is there. I wonder why the Australian cats adatped that way.

It's an interesting study but I don't know how they would manage to "train" wild animals to fear cats.
Lots of prey with minimal competition allows the feral cats to thrive. Like I said earlier, naturally unbalanced. I think they are considering something like wolves in Yellowstone impact where they are considering just controlling the population until a balance exists without control. It's not training the wild animals to fear cats as much as seeing if the wild animals can adapt to an ambush predator in their space without going extinct.
 

Silver Crazy

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I dont understand how it would work.
One of a feral cats hunting techniques for example take a rats nest, the cat will camp out for up to a week near the nest without taking a rat and the rats get familiar and used to the cats scent and without any attacks start to come and go with out fear of the cat being close.
From then on its a buffet for the cat and it will select a rat and kill and eat it without alarming the rest of the nest until there are no rats left.
Thats why you guys who feed ferals have a cat disappear for a week or two and appear agian well fed and fat and not half starved like you would expect.
I dont think our native animals would be able to cope or be smart enough to deal with this type of cunning hunting technique .
 
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