Research Highlights

Ecology: Rats and cats drive extinctions

Non-native predatory mammals such as cats and rats can wreak havoc on native animal populations, especially on islands.

Tim Doherty of Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues studied the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. They found that 58% of extinctions of birds, mammals and reptiles recorded in the past 500 years can be blamed, at least in part, on exotic mammalian predators, including dogs and pigs. In particular, rodents helped to drive 75 species extinct, and cats 63. Moreover, almost 600 species, most of them island-dwellers, are currently threatened to some degree by non-native mammalian predators.

The authors stress the importance of efforts to eradicate exotic predators from islands around the world.

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA (2016)



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