My current research involves determining the behavioral responses of feral cats to broad scale fox control. The introduction of the domestic cat to the Australian landscape as a feral predator has greatly assisted the demise of many small mammal species, especially on offshore islands. Much of the previous feral predator research has focused on the red fox, while the feral cat has largely been ignored. Thanks to work by Chris Dickman and other members of the Dickman Lab, the feral cat is now seen as a major threat to biodiversity in Australia.
Little is known about the ecology of feral cats in forested environments as they are cryptic and trap shy. No effective method has been developed to determine actual population abundance. My project will assess home range, movement and dietary changes in feral cats in East Gippsland following the implementation of large scale (1 million ha) fox control by the Southern Ark project. Hopefully, along the way I will also find an effective method for determining abundance and assess effective baiting regimes to allow feral cats to be controlled in forested environments. My project involves collaborations between this Institute, the Southern Ark project – managed by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, and the Wildlife Genetics Laboratory at the University of Canberra. The work is funded by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre.
My main research interests revolve around the small native dasyurids. Much of my undergraduate and honours time was spent trapping Antechinus and Dunnarts around the ACT and Southern New South Wales. Since 2004 I have run field trips with the University of Canberra to Jervis Bay on the pretext of tutoring students but really it was just an excuse to spend more time with the small dasyurids.
When a project appeared that let me to examine the ecology of the feral cat, an invasive predator that preys on my favoured species, I jumped at the chance.
Next Field TripsSept 2012