Michael C. Calver's research while affiliated with Murdoch University and other places

Publications (77)

Article
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Globally, unowned urban cats are a major concern because they may suffer from poor welfare and cause problems, including public health risks, nuisances, and urban wildlife predation. While management options are often presented as a choice between culling or trap–neuter–return (TNR), for 25 years, the Lonely Miaow (Inc.) charity in Auckland, New Ze...
Article
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Free-roaming domestic cats (i.e., cats that are owned or unowned and are considered ‘at large’) are globally distributed non-native species that have marked impacts on biodiversity and human health. Despite clear scientific evidence of these impacts, free-roaming cats are either unmanaged or managed using scientifically unsupported and ineffective...
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The choice of words we use often conveys specific meanings and tone to a topic. Hence, the words that we use in conservation science often have important ramifications in scientific, legal, and social contexts. The management of free-ranging cats is an important example, because of the animal welfare, predation, and public health implications. In t...
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The introduction of European red foxes in Australia in the late mid-nineteenth century has resulted in the spread of this invasive species across the continent. The morphological and functional divergence of this relatively recently introduced population has not been explored to date, yet it may provide unique insights into adaptability of this wid...
Article
Between 1970 and 2013, the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales (RZS NSW) published 30 books, contributing to many relevant or controversial zoological topics as well as documenting the society’s history and offering perspectives on the development of Australian zoology. Authors from eight countries contributed to books or chapters. Over 97%...
Article
The peer-reviewed Australian Zoologist, first published in 1914, is Australia’s longest-lived zoological journal. Its publication history shows changes in the zoological topics covered over the last 100 years, including the animals studied, characteristics of the authors and readership, and the influence of the databases used to study the journal o...
Article
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Accurate determination of chronological age for cats (Felis catus) permits assessment of age at reproduction and growth measures, whilst understanding survivorship enables modelling of population dynamics underpinning many management questions. At present, the relative accuracy of different measures has not been compared, especially in relation to...
Article
Context: Determining the most efficient detection method for a target species is key for successful wildlife monitoring and management. Driven transects and sign surveys are commonly used to monitor populations of the endangered numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus). Camera trapping is being explored as a new method. These methods were unevaluated for eff...
Article
Estimating population size is essential for many applications in population ecology, so capture–recapture techniques to do this are often taught in secondary school classrooms and introductory university units. However, few classroom simulations of capture–recapture consider the sensitivity of results to sampling intensity, the important concept th...
Article
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Trap–Neuter–Return and its variants (hereafter TNR) aims to control unowned cat populations. Papers on this topic form a useful case study of how how an area of literature grows, papers become influential, and citation networks form, influencing future study as well as public perceptions of the science. We analysed 145 TNR studies published 2002–20...
Article
Data collected in many biology laboratory classes are on ratio or interval scales where the size interval between adjacent units on the scale is constant, which is a critical requirement for analysis with parametric statistics such as t-tests or analysis of variance. In other cases, such as ratings of disease or behavior, data are collected on ordi...
Article
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As carnivorans rely heavily on their head and jaws for prey capture and handling, skull morphology and bite force can therefore reflect their ability to take larger or more difficult-to-handle prey. For 568 feral and stray cats (Felis catus), we recorded their demographics (sex and age), source location (feral or stray) and morphological measures (...
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To continue dialogue over proposed Australian trials of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), we applied a framework requiring identification of areas of agreement, areas of disagreement, and identification of empirical data collection required to resolve disagreements. There is agreement that Australia has a problem with stray cats, causing problems of impact...
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Camera traps are widely used to collect data for wildlife management, but species-specific testing is crucial. We conducted three trials to optimise camera traps for detecting numbats (Myrmecobius fasciatus), a 500–700-g mammal. We compared detection rates from (1) Reconyx PC900 camera traps installed at heights ranging from 10–45 cm, and (2) Recon...
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Domestic cats have a cosmopolitan distribution, commonly residing in urban, suburban and peri-urban environments that are also critical for biodiversity conservation. This study describes the impact of a desexed, free-roaming cat on the behavior of a threatened coastal seabird, the Australian Fairy Tern, Sternula nereis nereis, in Mandurah, south-w...
Article
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To inform trapping protocols to reduce by-catch while trapping feral cats by-catch welfare costs should be quantified. During cat trapping programs at six Western Australian sites from 1997–2015, 431 non-target individuals, including 232 individuals from native species (132 mammals, 52 birds and 42 reptiles) were captured. Among the native fauna; b...
Article
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Surgical desexing of cats is typically carried out after six months of age (Mature Age Desexing, MAD); between 4–6 months (Traditional Age Desexing, TAD); or before four months (Early Age Desexing, EAD). We complemented existing surveys of veterinarians’ acceptance of EAD with online and face-to-face surveys, to ascertain the preferred desexing age...
Article
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Robust measurements of age are important for investigating ecological processes. In particular, seabirds, which form a major part of the coastal and marine ecosystems, may use and respond to their environment differently based on their age. This study aimed to determine whether pentosidine, a biological marker of age which was previously reliably u...
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Urban environments are increasingly important for biodiversity conservation, but pet cats threaten wildlife therein, displaying nuisance behaviour such as hunting, fighting, fouling and urine spraying. In an attempt to empower landholders wishing to reduce cat incursions humanely, we tested the effectiveness of two ultrasonic cat deterrents (CatSto...
Article
Authors or journals often claim internationality or multidisciplinarity based on assertion or qualitative evidence, while scientometric studies employ sophisticated analyses or software beyond the resources of occasional users to assess these concepts. This paper demonstrates how statistics used to describe ecological communities can be applied to...
Article
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To assist the management of the critically endangered woylie (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi), a quantitative study of its diet was conducted across five of the larger subpopulations in south-Western Australia. There was a close match between dietary composition established from foregut contents and faecal pellets. Woylies were predominantly mycopha...
Article
After over 50000 years of interaction between Aboriginal people and changing climates, south-western Australia’s tall forests were first logged less than 200 years ago, initiating persistent conflict. Recent conservation advocacy has resulted in the protection of 49% of these tall forests in statutory reserves, providing an opportunity to implement...
Article
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Many healthy adult cats are euthanised annually in shelters, and novel approaches are required to reduce euthanasia rates. Waiving adoption fees is one such approach. However, concerns that less responsible owners will be attracted to free events persist among welfare groups. We evaluated evidence for differences in cat fate, health, and adherence...
Article
Roaming pet cats Felis catus are a significant conservation issue because they may hunt, harass and compete with wildlife; spread disease, interbreed with cats in feral populations, and hybridise with wild native felids. Studies of the roaming behaviour of pet cats are often hampered by modest sample sizes and variability between cats, limiting sta...
Article
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Providing detailed feedback in large classes is challenging. We describe how we develop an archive of comments while marking - noting good points, what needs improvement, and how to correct shortcomings. Comments are recorded in a single document with codes. Relevant codes are marked on students' work where issues arise. Each student's annotated as...
Article
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Context Provision of key habitat resources is essential for effectively managing species that have specific ecological requirements and occur in production landscapes. Threatened black cockatoos in the jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest of Western Australia have a wide range, so their conservation requires support from all land tenures, not just...
Data
Raw data underpinning the analysis of Rasch location scores reported in Fig 3. Res loc: location scores for the restriction scale. Ster loc: location scores for the desexing scale. Wild loc: location scores for the Wildlife scale. (XLS)
Data
Raw data underpinning the analysis of specific survey questions reported in Table 3. There is a separate spreadsheet for each question. 0 = agreement with the question, 1 = disagreement with the question. (XLS)
Article
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Roaming pet cats kill and harass wildlife, hybridise with wild felids, interbreed with feral populations, spread disease or annoy neighbours, and endanger their own welfare by fighting, being struck by vehicles or ingesting poisons. Confinement of pet cats is unpopular, so alternative methods to curb roaming behaviour would benefit wildlife conserv...
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Impacts on the forested bioregions of south-western Australia have, since first European settlement in 1826, been extensive and dramatic. Large-scale land clearing removed over two-thirds of the vegetation for agriculture and urbanisation. Other significant threats to the biota include: changed fire regimes; exotic predators, diseases and herbivore...
Article
Despite overwhelming evidence for the common ancestry of life and evolution by natural selection, ideas invoking direct creation persist, disrupting teaching evolution as a central biological concept. While originating within fundamentalist Protestantism in the USA, creationist views are now prominent elsewhere and in other religions. Responses by...
Article
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Many pet cats hunt and, irrespective of whether or not this threatens wildlife populations, distressed owners may wish to curtail hunting while allowing their pets to roam. Therefore we evaluated the effectiveness of three patterned designs (simple descriptions being rainbow, red and yellow) of the anti-predation collar cover, the Birdsbesafe® (BBS...
Article
The environment of the northern jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest (NJF) of Mediterranean-climate, south-Western Australia is characterised by deeply weathered soil profiles and low fertility, reflecting long geological stasis. This fire-prone environment is characterised by primary forests of low productivity but high biomass. Since European set...
Article
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Assessments of scientists’ research records through citations are becoming increasingly important in management and in bibliometric research, but the databases available may contain errors that reduce the reliability of assessments. We investigated this by profiling our personal records in five databases: Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Web of Science, t...
Article
"Habitat" is often used ambiguously in conservation biology and ecology to mean either the specific biotic and abiotic parts of the environment where an organism lives (e.g., the habitat of species x), or to describe a particular environment without reference to a specific species (e.g., the coastal dune habitat). Conservation legislation usually d...
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Fisheries Science, Wildlife Management and Conservation Biology are crucial to the Australian economy and society. Australian doctoral education in these fields assumes that students commence with well-developed relevant skills, or acquire them autodidactically or from their supervisors. We believe that such reliance on autodidactic approaches and...
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We applaud McCarthy et al for their research addressing a critical issue in feral cat management. We concur that feral and free-roaming cats pose myriad problems for people and the environment. However, we believe that the authors overlooked several important factors when concluding that trap-vasectomy- hysterectomy-release (IVHR) "should be recomm...
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Abstract Health screening of animals before translocation is important to minimize the risk of pathogen transmission between sites and species. Reintroduction has been incorporated into management of the endangered western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) to mitigate for habitat loss within the species' core range in southwestern Austra...
Article
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Land clearing threatens three black cockatoo species (forest red-tailed black cockatoo, (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso), Carnaby's cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), and Baudin's cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) endemic to southwestern Australia, so revegetation is important to their recovery. Over three years we studied cockatoo activity in...
Article
National Research Assessment Exercises (NRAEs) aim to improve returns from public funding of research. Critics argue that they undervalue publications influencing practice, not citations, implying that journals valued least by NRAEs are disproportionately useful to practitioners. Conservation biology can evaluate this criticism because it uses spec...
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The health of Eucalyptus gomphocephala is declining within its natural range in south-western Australia. In a pilot study to assess whether changes in mycorrhizal fungi and soil chemistry might be associated with E. gomphocephala decline, we set up a containerized bioassay experiment with E. gomphocephala as the trap plant using intact soil cores c...
Article
Assessments of scientists' research records through citations are becoming increasingly important in management and in bibliometric research, but the databases available may contain errors that reduce the reliability of assessments. We investigated this by profiling our personal records in five databases: Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Web of Science, t...
Article
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Many Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs) are now vulnerable to climate change, with some regions predicted to undergo a shift towards much drier and hotter conditions. Although MTE woodlands are highly resilient to periods of drought and perturbations such as fire, this shift increases the already wide range of threatening processes they face. Wit...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Land degradation is a global issue. Ecological restoration techniques need to be improved in degraded areas to undertake restoration successfully at a scale never seen before using the smallest amounts of valuable propagules and minimal management intervention. Site preparation techniques and plant treatments may signi...
Article
This study tested the efficacy of smokewater to determine the potential germination from soil seed bank in three management sites of the same National Park: a forest site prior to restoration, an ex-pine plantation site and an ex-mine site. This will provide further information to land managers so that more accurate planning can occur. Results show...
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Despite evidence that pet cats prey on urban wildlife and may transmit disease, there is uncertainty over whether they cause declines in wildlife populations. The uncertainty fosters disagreement about whether and how pet cats should be managed, and hampers the implementation of regulations. We suggest that the precautionary principle could be used...
Article
Collections of 50–100 postage stamps illustrating many organisms or biomedical topics are available widely and cheaply. They are valuable stimulus material for exercises as diverse as observing and describing, studying biological classification, substituting for collecting and preserving real specimens, describing health education campaigns, and in...
Article
The qualitative label ‘international journal’ is used widely, including in national research quality assessments. We determined the practicability of analysing internationality quantitatively using 39 conservation biology journals, providing a single numeric index (IIJ) based on 10 variables covering the countries represented in the journals’ edito...
Article
We tested whether four preservation methods for faecal samples affected the identification of dietary components from the mycophagous woylie (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi). All storage techniques identified fungi as the most abundant food type (>69%), followed by plant material (9-17%) and invertebrates (<5%). Between 8 and 13% of material from ea...
Article
Open access (OA) publishing, whereby authors, their institutions, or their granting bodies pay or provide a repository through which peer-reviewed work is available online for free, is championed as a model to increase the number of citations per paper and disseminate results widely, especially to researchers in developing countries. We compared th...
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The invasive plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi (Stramenopila, Oomycota) has been introduced into 15 of the 25 global biodiversity hotspots, threatening susceptible rare flora and degrading plant communities with severe consequences for fauna. We developed protocols to contain or eradicate P. cinnamomi from spot infestations in threatened ecosys...
Article
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Restoration of degraded Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs) with long, hot and dry summers is challenging. To develop management guidelines, we evaluated techniques that could improve seedling establishment in two degraded Eucalyptus gomphocephala DC (tuart) woodlands, given weed and herbivore control. These techniques aimed to mimic favourable co...
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We took advantage of cat regulations enacted within differing subdivisions in the City of Armadale, Western Australia, to test the hypotheses that the species diversity (measured by the Shannon-Weiner index) and abundance of small and medium-sized mammals should be higher in native bushland within or adjacent to subdivisions where cats are restrict...
Article
The mean citations per paper is used increasingly as a simple metric for indicating the impact of a journal or comparing journal rankings. While convenient, we suggest that it has limitations given the highly skewed distributions of citations per paper in a wide range of journals.
Conference Paper
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Introduction Eucalyptus gomphocephala (Tuart) is an iconic woodland canopy tree, endemic to the Swan Coastal Plain of Western Australia, and one of few eucalypts able to dominate on calcareous soils. Unfortunately, less than one third of the original E. gomphocephala woodland ecosystem remains today (Government of Western Australia 2003), largely a...
Article
We evaluated whether a collar-worn pounce protector, the CatBib™, reduces the number of vertebrates caught by pet cats and whether its effectiveness was influenced by colour or adding a bell. Fifty-six cats identified as hunters were studied in Perth, Australia over six weeks in November/December 2005 (southern hemisphere spring/summer). Cats spent...
Article
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We review the history of forest management in two southern hemisphere forest types: Western Australia's jarrah Eucalyptus marginata forests and the Afromontane forests of southern Africa to determine approaches for achieving sustainable forest management. We argue that despite major differences in the ecology and biogeography of these two forest ty...
Article
Published and unpublished reports about Pseudocheirus occidentalis (Western Ringtail Possum) in the stand of Agonis flexuosa (peppermint trees) at Locke (near Busselton, Western Australia) indicated that it was common in the mid 1960s, rare in the mid 1980s and abundant in the early 1990s. This local decline and recovery occurred against a backgrou...
Article
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In 1996, Government directives began a transition to conform logging in Western Australia's State forests to principles of ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM). To place this in a historical context, we reviewed the history of the logging of jarrah Eucalyptus marginata forests to determine whether the volume of timber extracted and the...
Article
Animal Ethics Committees evaluate research proposals according to the Australian Code of Practice for the care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes (NHMRC 1997). All Australian universities, the CSIRO, many agencies controlled by the states and other organizations adhere to the specifications. The 1997 revision of the Code of Practice explici...
Article
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Controlled pollination techniques were used to produce hybrids between Eucalyptus camaldulensis and E. globulus, with E. camaldulensis as the female parent. There were substantial barriers to hybridisation, with a 28% reduction in the percentage capsule set, a 78% reduction in the number of seeds produced per capsule, a 99% increase in the number o...
Article
A wide range of anthropogenic ecosystem disturbances accompanied the spread of European settlement across Australia after 1788. They included widespread land clearance, changed fire regimes, harvesting/persecution of native biota, hydrological change through damming and irrigation, and the introduction of new species (Lunney et al. 1997; Calver et...
Article
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The pattern of dispersal of burrowing bettongs (Bettongia lesueur) was studied in a population reintroduced to a peninsula protected from exotic predators at Heirisson Prong in Shark Bay, Western Australia. The reintroduced population was growing strongly in numbers and expanding in area during the study. Young were first marked in the pouch and su...
Article
Seventy-three isolates of Phytophthora cinnamomi were collected from diseased Eucalyptus marginata (jarrah) and Corymbia calophylla (marri) trees in two forest communities in the southwest of Western Australia. Both populations of P. cinnamomi were examined for phenotypic and genotypic variation. Microsatellite DNA analysis showed that all isolates...
Article
The hypothesis that predation by feral cats and introduced foxes reduces population sizes of small, native vertebrates was supported by results of a predator-removal experiment at Heirisson Prong, a semi-arid site in Western Australia. The methods of control used against cats and foxes to protect native mammals reintroduced to Heirisson Prong produ...
Article
The diets of cats (Felis catus) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes) killed during predator control at a semi-arid site in Western Australia were studied to see which prey species may be affected by predation from these introduced predators. The number of items, biomass and frequency of occurrence of each food type in the gut contents from 109 fetal cats, 62...
Article
Conservation biologists increasingly follow Soul� (1985) and describe conservation biology as a "crisis discipline". Crises require quick, comprehensive appraisal of the situation and prompt, firm decisions. These actions can be at odds with peer review and publication, which are often slow processes. Although peerreviewed journals in the physical...
Article
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Many vertebrate extinctions followed the introduction of the exotic predators, the fox and the cat, to Australia. While experiments have confirmed the case against the fox as a serious threat to endangered species, there is no direct experimental links showing recovery of prey populations following culling of cat numbers, This, coupled with the emo...
Article
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Four methods of baiting were evaluated on a radio-collared population of fetal eats on Heirisson Prong, Shark Bay, Western Australia. Dried-meat baits, baiting rabbits to kill eats through secondary poisoning, a fishmeal-based bait and a bait coated in the flavour enhancer Digest were tested. All proved to be ineffective for controlling fetal cats....
Article
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This study tested the assumption that variation in the energy value of different instars of a hemimetabolous insect makes no ecologically significant difference to rates of energy gain by its vertebrate predators and found it to be supported. Three mammal species, four bird species and a lizard species were used as predators and one grasshopper spe...

Citations

... Thus, one unfortunate consequence of their global popularity as companion animals [2,3] is the potential for large populations of unowned, free-ranging cats around human habitations, sustained by the abandonment of owned animals and uncontrolled breeding [4][5][6][7][8]. They are variously named unowned cats, free-ranging cats, stray cats, community cats, or feral cats, with little agreement on a chaotic nomenclature [9,10]; see Figure 1 for the nomenclature that we use herein. The numbers of unowned cats are difficult to quantify, with estimates of their abundance ranging between 30 and 100 million in the USA (Ref. ...
... The quantification of bone shape presents itself as a useful solution to taxon differentiation in biodiverse deposits. Morphometric approaches are routinely used in biology to describe evolutionary, phenotypic and functionally adaptive traits [1][2][3][4] . Archaeologists have long recognised the utility of a quantitative approach to identifying and exploring shape variation in archeozoological bone, particularly skulls and teeth 5,6 . ...
... This is given the degree to which breed differences can be associated with drastic alterations in the underlying facial morphology of individuals and potentially the degree to which pain-linked expressions (based on LDM methods) are displayed 51 . However, given that factors such as breed 51,52 , age 53 and potentially their interaction 54 , as well as sex 55 and particularly neuter status in adult males (e.g. 56 ), may all affect aspects of craniofacial morphology in this species, future work should aim to assess the degree to which such cat-characteristics may impact on model performance, with the aim to increase model generalisability and robustness. ...
... Similarly, the continued large-scale camera trap monitoring of terrestrial vertebrate species in California will provide more robust data about mesopredator occurrence and co-occurrence as precipitation patterns fluctuate over time. These data, paired with small mammal abundance studies, or second cameras set to maximize small mammal detections (Seidlitz et al., 2021), would be valuable in examining the hypothesized influence of prey availability on mesopredator activity in times of drought and drought recovery. ...
... Options are often constrained by legislation, which varies greatly between jurisdictions [39][40][41][42][43]. Trapping and euthanizing cats (TE) [37,44] sometimes meets with community resistance. There has been a growing number of literature reports describing alternative actions for potentially resolving stray cat issues, especially regarding trapping, neutering, and returning cats to the site of capture, e.g., trap-neuter-return (TNR); with variants such as TNVR (where cats are vaccinated before release) or TTNR (where there is intense targeting of a restricted geographical area), e.g., [45,46]. These methods entail varying degrees of follow-up support, including substantial time and money invested by 'caretakers' for these cats. ...
... This is a known issue in using non-parametric tests such as Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney generally [21] and specifically in criminology when statistically analyzing trend data over time [22]. An accepted method to mitigate this issue is to combine statistical significance testing with visual inspection of time-series behavior to ensure that scale differences or trend patterns are not overlooked [22]. ...
... The cost of predation reflects the value of the birds and small mammals that are killed by cats for either food or play. Although cats prey on other species (e.g., reptiles, large insects), we modeled mammal and bird predation of free roaming cats because these groups cover the majority of the free roaming cat diet (Loss et al. 2013;Fleming et al. 2020;Herrera et al. 2022). ...