Animal Conservation

Cover image for Vol. 19 Issue 6

Edited By: Res Altwegg, Darren Evans, John Ewen, Iain Gordon, Jeff A. Johnson, Gurutzeta Guillera-Arroita and Julie Young

Impact Factor: 2.788

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 10/49 (Biodiversity Conservation); 48/150 (Ecology)

Online ISSN: 1469-1795

Associated Title(s): International Zoo Yearbook, Journal of Zoology, Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation

Virtual Issue - Domestic Carnivores and Wildlife Conservation

 Domestic Carnivores and Wildlife Conservation Matthew E. Gompper
School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA

Within the field of conservation ecology, the importance of invasive species has long been recognized. Invasive animals are of particular concern when they are vertebrate carnivores, perhaps because these taxa are able to persist in diverse habitats and once comfortably embedded in these novel setting, are often able to instigate strong declines in prey species, or indeed, trophic cascades. The pages of Animal Conservation are littered with articles on invasive vertebrate carnivores.

Two carnivorous species blur the line when it comes to assessing whether a taxon is invasive: the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) and cat (Felis catus). Because they are often desired and subsidized human commensals, we rarely consider the ecological role of these species when they are either unowned or beyond the control of their ‘owners’ (whether free-ranging out of ear-shot or as animals that have left the fold and reverted to a feral lifestyle). Thus while conservationists, and sometimes the general public, are often attuned to some concerns regarding the impacts of cats on birds, or the potential for dogs to hybridize with wolves (C. lupus), many in this same audience are unaware of other concerns regarding these predators. While recent syntheses (Denny & Dickman, 2010; Hughes & Macdonald, 2013; Gompper, 2014; Nogales et al., 2014) have served to bring these issues to the forefront for ecologists and conservationists, much remains unclear. For example, in some landscapes free-ranging dogs and cats have existed for thousands of years. Furthermore, in some localities free-ranging populations of these species may serve as ecological surrogates of native carnivores that have been lost due to anthropogenic impacts. Recognition of such patterns suggests that understanding the impacts of domestic dogs and cats on wildlife requires in-depth research and nuanced interpretation of the ensuing data.

The extent of research on how domestic carnivores influence wildlife of conservation concern can be observed on the pages of Animal Conservation, where numerous articles on the theme have been published. In this Virtual Issue, eleven articles published over the past decade are highlighted. These papers collectively reveal the diversity of ecological interactions that domestic carnivores have with wildlife. The articles examine these interactions from diverse perspectives, with foci that include edge effects, predation, scavenging, disease maintenance and transmission, and hybridization.


Denny EA and Dickman CR (2010) Review of Cat Ecology and Management Strategies in Australia, Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Canberra.

Gompper, M. E. (Ed.). (2013). Free-Ranging Dogs and Wildlife Conservation. Oxford University Press.

Hughes, J., & Macdonald, D. W. (2013). A review of the interactions between free-roaming domestic dogs and wildlife. Biological Conservation, 157, 341-351.

Nogales, M., Vidal, E., Medina, F. M., Bonnaud, E., Tershy, B. R., Campbell, K. J., & Zavaleta, E. S. (2013). Feral cats and biodiversity conservation: the urgent prioritization of island management. BioScience, 63(10), 804-810.

Urban bird declines and the fear of cats
A. P. Beckerman, M. Boots and K. J. Gaston

Top-predator control on islands boosts endemic prey but not mesopredator
E. Bonnaud, D. Zarzoso-Lacoste, K. Bourgeois, L. Ruffino, J. Legrand and E. Vidal

Diet of free-ranging domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) in rural Zimbabwe: implications for wild scavengers on the periphery of wildlife reserves
E. Ashe, D. P. Noren, R. Williams

Effect of guard dogs on the behavior and reproduction of gazelles in cattle enclosures on the Golan Heights
G. Gingold, Y. Yom-Tov, N. Kronfeld-Schor and E. Geffen

Ecological impact of inside/outside house cats around a suburban nature preserve
Roland W. Kays and Amielle A. DeWan

Domestic dogs as an edge effect in the Brasília National Park, Brazil: interactions with native mammals
A. C. R. Lacerda, W. M. Tomas and J. Marinho-Filho

Management measures to control a feline leukemia virus outbreak in the endangered Iberian lynx
G. López, M. López-Parra, L. Fernández, C. Martínez-Granados, F. Martínez, M. L. Meli, J. M. Gil-Sánchez, N. Viqueira, M. A. Díaz-Portero, R. Cadenas, H. Lutz, A. Vargas and M. A. Simón

Trends, dynamics and resilience of an Ethiopian wolf population
J. Marino, C. Sillero-Zubiri and D.W. Macdonald

Roaming characteristics and feeding practices of village dogs scavenging sea-turtle nests
E. Ruiz-Izaguirre, A. van Woersem, K. (C.) H. A. M. Eilers, S. E. van Wieren, G. Bosch, A. J. van der Zijpp and I. J. M. de Boer

Craniological differentiation amongst wild-living cats in Britain and southern Africa: natural variation or the effects of hybridisation?
Nobuyuki Yamaguchi, Andrew C. Kitchener, Carlos A. Driscoll, Jennifer M. Ward and David W. Macdonald