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Domestic cats and dogs create a landscape of fear for pest rodents around rural homesteads

Domestic cats and dogs create a landscape of fear for pest rodents around rural homesteads

Mahlaba, Themb’alilahlwa A. M., Monadjem, Ara, McCleery, Robert and Belmain, Steven R ORCID: 0000-0002-5590-7545 (2017) Domestic cats and dogs create a landscape of fear for pest rodents around rural homesteads. PLoS ONE, 12 (2):e0171593. pp. 1-9. ISSN 1932-6203 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0171593)

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Abstract

Using domestic predators such as cats to control rodent pest problems around farms and homesteads is common across the world. However, practical scientific evidence on the impact of such biological control in agricultural settings is often lacking. We tested whether the presence of domestic cats and/or dogs in rural homesteads would affect the foraging behaviour of pest rodents. We estimated giving up densities (GUDs) from established feeding patches and estimated relative rodent activity using tracking tiles at 40 homesteads across four agricultural communities. We found that the presence of cats and dogs at the same homestead significantly reduced activity and increased GUDs (i.e. increased perception of foraging cost) of pest rodent species. However, if only cats or dogs alone were present at the homestead there was no observed difference in rodent foraging activity in comparison to homesteads with no cats or dogs. Our results suggest that pest rodent activity can be discouraged through the presence of domestic predators. When different types of predator are present together they likely create a heightened landscape of fear for foraging rodents.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2017 Mahlaba et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Giving up density; Predation; Rodent; Landscape of fear; Biological control
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Pest Behaviour Research Group
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2017 09:45
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: GREAT c
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/16279

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