The European wildcat is threatened by habitat fragmentation, illegal or incidental killings and hybridization with free-ranging domestic cats. Conservation projects should be based on a sound knowledge of the patterns of wildcat distribution, population size and dynamics. However, this information is scanty, mainly because of the species’ elusive behaviour. In this study, we tested the efficiency of a protocol that integrates the use of non-invasive genetic identifications and camera trapping for wildcat monitoring. The field work was carried out in the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, a protected area in the central Italian Apennines, where wildcat presence has been recently ascertained. DNA samples were extracted from scats collected during the survey and hair tufts trapped by valerian-treated sticks. Individual genotypes were identified using 10 autosomal microsatellites, mtDNA and Y chromosome markers. Additionally, we obtained 30-s long video clips from 20 camera trap stations associated to the hair traps. Our results confirmed the presence of wildcats in the study area. We identified six to nine wildcat individuals (respectively from non-invasive genetic sampling and camera trapping survey). Some of these showed anomalous coat colour patterns (one) or genetic signatures of hybridization (three).We further identified five domestic cats that were sharing parts of wildcats’ territories. We found individual variations in the response to valerian lure. We compared and evaluated the pros and cons of these monitoring methods. We concluded that, if used simultaneously, these methods may considerably increase the efficiency of wildcat detection and the quality of collected data.

Velli, E., Bologna, M.A., Castelli, S., Ragni, B., Randi, E. (2015). Non-invasive monitoring of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris Schreber, 1777): comparative analysis of three different monitoring techniques and evaluation of their integration. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE RESEARCH [10.1007/s10344-015-0936-2].

Non-invasive monitoring of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris Schreber, 1777): comparative analysis of three different monitoring techniques and evaluation of their integration

VELLI, EDOARDO;BOLOGNA, Marco Alberto;
2015-01-01

Abstract

The European wildcat is threatened by habitat fragmentation, illegal or incidental killings and hybridization with free-ranging domestic cats. Conservation projects should be based on a sound knowledge of the patterns of wildcat distribution, population size and dynamics. However, this information is scanty, mainly because of the species’ elusive behaviour. In this study, we tested the efficiency of a protocol that integrates the use of non-invasive genetic identifications and camera trapping for wildcat monitoring. The field work was carried out in the Foreste Casentinesi National Park, a protected area in the central Italian Apennines, where wildcat presence has been recently ascertained. DNA samples were extracted from scats collected during the survey and hair tufts trapped by valerian-treated sticks. Individual genotypes were identified using 10 autosomal microsatellites, mtDNA and Y chromosome markers. Additionally, we obtained 30-s long video clips from 20 camera trap stations associated to the hair traps. Our results confirmed the presence of wildcats in the study area. We identified six to nine wildcat individuals (respectively from non-invasive genetic sampling and camera trapping survey). Some of these showed anomalous coat colour patterns (one) or genetic signatures of hybridization (three).We further identified five domestic cats that were sharing parts of wildcats’ territories. We found individual variations in the response to valerian lure. We compared and evaluated the pros and cons of these monitoring methods. We concluded that, if used simultaneously, these methods may considerably increase the efficiency of wildcat detection and the quality of collected data.
Velli, E., Bologna, M.A., Castelli, S., Ragni, B., Randi, E. (2015). Non-invasive monitoring of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris Schreber, 1777): comparative analysis of three different monitoring techniques and evaluation of their integration. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE RESEARCH [10.1007/s10344-015-0936-2].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11590/134955
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