Presentation Title

Dispersal of Feral Cats: Evidence from Genetics and GPS

Location

Atrium

Session Format

Poster Presentation

Research Area Topic:

Natural & Physical Sciences - Biology

Co-Presenters, Co- Authors, Co-Researchers, Mentors, or Faculty Advisors

Dr. Michelle Cawthorn - Faculty Advisor

Abstract

Invasive species are a considerable threat to many native habitats and species along with being considered a major cause of biodiversity loss . Economic damages associated with controlling invasive species and their effects amount to approximately $120 billion a year. Feral cats (Felis catus) are listed as one of the '100 world's worst invasive alien species'. There are as many as 70-100 million feral cats in the United States as well as an estimated 117-157 million domestic indoor and outdoor cats. Management efforts include nonlethal and lethal control methods. Nonlethal methods include a feeding and sterilization program known as "trap-neuter-release" (TNR) where cats are surgically sterilized and returned to the environment. Immigration may hinder TNR's success due to a decrease of natural mortality. Using genetic methods, the influence of immigrants on local population can be quantified and assessed. Microsatellite loci have been used for the analysis of natural population structure and molecular methods of identifying population structure can be a tool for the management and ecology of wildlife especially when paired with behavioral, demographic, or spatial information. The use of spatial information can aid in predicting the efficiency of different control strategies. GPS monitoring has been used on feral cats to study individual movements and interactions with environments, conspecifics and other species. Effective population control strategies should include a broad understanding of how feral cats occupy and move through the environment. The overarching goals of my study are to assess the amount of genetic variation of feral cat colonies on and around campus and to compare the distribution and movements of domestic and feral cats. To accomplish these goals I will 1) evaluate genetic diversity and population structure of feral cats through assessing microsatellite variation using 10 microsatellite markers and 2) determine home-ranges of domestic and feral cats through GPS technology.

Keywords

Feral cats, Population genetics, Dispersal, GPS

Presentation Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

Start Date

4-24-2015 2:45 PM

End Date

4-24-2015 4:00 PM

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Apr 24th, 2:45 PM Apr 24th, 4:00 PM

Dispersal of Feral Cats: Evidence from Genetics and GPS

Atrium

Invasive species are a considerable threat to many native habitats and species along with being considered a major cause of biodiversity loss . Economic damages associated with controlling invasive species and their effects amount to approximately $120 billion a year. Feral cats (Felis catus) are listed as one of the '100 world's worst invasive alien species'. There are as many as 70-100 million feral cats in the United States as well as an estimated 117-157 million domestic indoor and outdoor cats. Management efforts include nonlethal and lethal control methods. Nonlethal methods include a feeding and sterilization program known as "trap-neuter-release" (TNR) where cats are surgically sterilized and returned to the environment. Immigration may hinder TNR's success due to a decrease of natural mortality. Using genetic methods, the influence of immigrants on local population can be quantified and assessed. Microsatellite loci have been used for the analysis of natural population structure and molecular methods of identifying population structure can be a tool for the management and ecology of wildlife especially when paired with behavioral, demographic, or spatial information. The use of spatial information can aid in predicting the efficiency of different control strategies. GPS monitoring has been used on feral cats to study individual movements and interactions with environments, conspecifics and other species. Effective population control strategies should include a broad understanding of how feral cats occupy and move through the environment. The overarching goals of my study are to assess the amount of genetic variation of feral cat colonies on and around campus and to compare the distribution and movements of domestic and feral cats. To accomplish these goals I will 1) evaluate genetic diversity and population structure of feral cats through assessing microsatellite variation using 10 microsatellite markers and 2) determine home-ranges of domestic and feral cats through GPS technology.