Monday, September 06, 2010

New Study Says Habitat Preservation Key in Saving Wildlife

In a new study conducted by Dr. Maggie Lilith and funded by the City of Armadale, Western Australia shows that cat legislation will not be effective without conserving habitat. The study found that protecting and restoring the habitats of declining native wildlife may be more important than simply controlling where pet cats can go.

According to a recent article posted on Murdoch University’s website, "While there are numerous studies on feral cats and their impacts on declining native fauna, the impact of pet cats on suburban wildlife or fauna in remnant bushland is relatively unknown although there is a wide perception of risk," Dr Lilith said. "Our study in the City of Armadale showed no definitive evidence of predatory impacts from pet cats on small mammals. Mammal species diversity, richness and abundance were not significantly different between sites where cats were restricted."

Dr. Lilith goes on to say that “despite the popular perception that cats were the main problem in conserving small mammals, vegetation appeared to be a more important issue. The species’ richness and abundance appeared linked to groundcover density in the various sites. This factor, not cat restrictions, appeared to be the primary determinant of species’ richness, species’ diversity and absolute numbers of small mammals in these sites."

In 2008, Murdoch’s Biological Sciences postgraduate student Jacky Grayson completed a similar study in the City of Melville, which showed the density of suburban housing and the lack of habitat were also more influential than the presence of cats in the lack of small passerines (perching and song birds), such as the Western Spinebill, New Holland Honeyeater and Rufous Whistler.

Again studies like these show that not only controlling cat populations BUT preserving habitat to be imperative of protecting wildlife. So while cat rescue organizations are out sterilizing cats, the wildlife conservationists should be out doing just that…conserving more habitats and pushing for stricter legislation to prevent over-development, deforestation and defragmentation. Yet, most are too busy name-calling and placing blame on cats. Hopefully as more of these studies continue to prove what us cat activists have been saying, the conservationists will get a clue and start working WITH us instead of AGAINST us.

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