DIETARY OVERLAP OF AN ALIEN AND NATIVE CARNIVORE ON SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND, CALIFORNIA

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Abstract

Predation by feral cats (Felis catus) is recognized as a major threat to native fauna worldwide, but the competitive effects of cats on native species have not been extensively studied. Cats occur on San Clemente Island, California, in sympatry with endemic island foxes (Urocyon littoralis clementae). We examined diets of cats and island foxes between years, seasons, and habitats to assess the potential for resource competition between the 2 species. Analysis of 602 cat and 958 fox feces revealed a high level of dietary overlap (O = 0.93) and relatively narrow niche breadths for both species (Bstandard Fox = 0.37; Bstandard Cat = 0.49). Despite the overlap in diet, cats and foxes appear to partition prey resources. Cats consume approximately equal proportions of arthropod (47.9%) and vertebrate (44.2%) prey, the latter primarily rodents (29.2%) and lizards (12.9%). In contrast, foxes appear to rely more on arthropods (57.7%), with plants (20.5%) and vertebrates (21.6%) occurring in lower, but roughly equal frequencies. Season appeared to have little effect on diet; however, diet did vary between habitats and years for both species. Diets of cats on San Clemente Island are consistent with those from other studies. We found no evidence of a dietary shift by foxes that were in sympatry with cats.

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