Competition in action between one of Australia’s largest feral land-based predator and our largest native aerial predator

By Patrick Taggart, PhD Candidate University of Adelaide

Foxes have substantial impacts on Australian wildlife. Most often, foxes are considered to impact on native wildlife through predation, but in many cases, foxes are also a direct competitor of our wildlife, as shown in this series of images captured through my PhD research.

My research aims to demonstrate that the prevalence of cat-borne diseases such as toxoplasmosis and sarcocystosis are higher on Kangaroo Island when compared to the adjacent mainland, and explain why these diseases cluster on the island.

Toxoplasmosis and sarcocystosis have health, welfare and economic impacts on wildlife, livestock and humans. Understanding the factors that lead to increased prevalence of these diseases will consequently facilitate their management. Differences in feral cat feeding behaviour is one possible explanation for the higher prevalence of cat-borne diseases on the island. To investigate this component of my project, I have been deploying kangaroo carcasses on Kangaroo Island and the adjacent mainland and monitoring animals utilising these carcasses using camera traps.

Camera trapping in now the most commonly used technique for indexing feral cat and predator populations due to their ability to be deployed for extended periods of time, increasing the probability of detecting rare or elusive animals.

Similarly, camera traps are used to monitor abundant animals, and have the added benefits of being a non-invasive survey tool and increased feasibility when compared to some sampling techniques. As shown here, camera traps can provide insights into animal behaviours, interactions, and ecology, species inventories, and are commonly used to aid in quantifying populations.

For more information on my research please contact me via email at patrick.taggart@adelaide.edu.au

Further resources

Read our PestSmart guide ‘An Introduction to Camera Trapping for Wildlife Surveys in Australia’ here

View our PestSmart section of Camera Trapping here – https://www.pestsmart.org.au/act/act-step-4/camera-trapping/