An understanding of the factors that drive inter-population variability in home-range size is essential for managing the impacts of invasive species with broad global distributions, such as the feral domestic cat (Felis catus). The assumption that home-range sizes scale negatively with landscape productivity is fundamental to many spatial behaviour models, and inter-site variation in landscape productivity has often been invoked to explain the vast differences in feral cat home-range sizes among different regions. However, the validity of this explanation has not been tested or described. We used regression models to examine the ability of remotely sensed landscape productivity data, average body weight and population density to explain differences in the size of feral cat home ranges estimated across a diverse collection of sites across the globe. As expected for a solitary polygynous carnivore, female cats occupied smaller home ranges in highly productive sites, and range sizes of male cats scaled positively with those of females. However, the relationship between range size and productivity broke down at highly seasonal sites. Home-range size also scaled negatively with population density, but there was no clear relationship with average body weight. The relationships we describe should be useful for predicting home-range sizes and for designing effective feral cat control and monitoring programmes in many situations. More generally, these results confirm the importance of landscape productivity in shaping the spatial distribution of solitary carnivores, but the nature of the relationship is more complicated than is often appreciated.
Bengsen, A., Algar, D., Ballard, G. A., Buckmaster, A., Comer, S., Fleming, P. J. S., Friend, J. A., Johnston, M., McGregor, H., Moseby, K., & Zewe, F. (2016). Feral cat home-range size varies predictably with landscape productivity and population density. Journal of Zoology, 298(2), 112-120. https://doi.org/10.1111/jzo.12290