A population genetic study of feral cats on Christmas island.
Feral and stray cats are a major threat for endemic species on Christmas Island and have been contributing to their decline. Cats were introduced to Christmas Island in 1888 and are now distributed across the whole island. We analysed the genetic population structure and diversity of feral and stray cats on Christmas Island to evaluate connectivity across the island and the possibility of discernible populations that could be targeted separately. Results indicate no differentiated population structure across the island, with cats facing no habitat obstacles to reduce their dispersal abilities across the island. We found high kin structure, suggesting individuals breeding successfully on the whole island. With the management of domestic and feral/stray cats since 2010, removal efforts targeting the whole island have successfully reduced the effective population size of feral/stray cats in the last five years. We suggest the use of various management techniques to facilitate future removal efforts, especially in areas on the island that are difficult to access.