Predation on endangered species by human-subsidized domestic cats on Tokunoshima Island.
It is important to unravel how invasive species impact native ecosystems in order to control them effectively. The presence of abundant exotic prey promotes population growth of invasive predators, thereby enhancing the predation pressure on native prey (hyper-predation). Not only the exotic prey but also feeding by humans is likely to cause "hyper-predation". However, the contribution of artificial resources to this was underestimated in previous studies. Here, we combined fecal and stable isotope analyses to reveal short- and long-term food habits of free-ranging cats on Tokunoshima Island. Although 20.1% of the feral cat feces contained evidence of forest-living species, stable isotope analysis suggested that the cats were mostly dependent on artificial resources. In addition, a general linear model analysis showed that their diet was strongly correlated with landscape variables. These results indicate that the invasive free-ranging cats are aided by anthropogenic feeding, and they move from the human habituated area to natural areas with high biodiversity. These findings suggest the possibility of human feeding indirectly accelerates the effect of cat predation, and call for a further study on their demography. Cat management mainly involves trapping, but our findings show that educating local residents to stop feeding free-ranging cats and keeping pet cats indoors are also important.