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Cats Protecting Birds: Modelling the Mesopredator Release Effect
Franck Courchamp, Michel Langlais and George Sugihara
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 68, No. 2 (Mar., 1999), pp. 282-292
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2647217
Page Count: 11
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1. Introduced predators account for a large part of the extinction of endemic insular species, which constitutes a major component of the loss of biodiversity among vertebrates. Eradication of alien predators from these ecosystems is often considered the best solution. 2. In some ecosystems, however, it can generate a greater threat for endemic prey through what is called the `mesopredator release'. This process predicts that, once superpredators are suppressed, a burst of mesopredators may follow which leads their shared prey to extinction. 3. This process is studied through a mathematical model describing a three species system (prey-mesopredator-superpredator). Analysis of the model, with and without control of meso- and superpredators, shows that this process does indeed exist and can drive shared prey to rapid extinction. 4. This work emphasizes that, although counter-intuitive, eradication of introduced superpredators, such as feral domestic cats, is not always the best solution to protect endemic prey when introduced mesopredators, such as rats, are also present.
Journal of Animal Ecology © 1999 British Ecological Society