University Of Tasmania

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Degrees of population-level susceptibility of Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species to predation by the introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cat (Felis catus)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 11:26 authored by Radford, JQ, Woinarski, JCZ, Legge, S, Baseler, M, Bentley, J, Burbidge, AA, Bode, M, Copley, P, Dexter, N, Dickman, CR, Gillespie, G, Hill, B, Christopher JohnsonChristopher Johnson, Kanowski, J, Latch, P, Letnic, M, Manning, A, Menkhorst, P, Mitchell, NJ, Moseby, K, Page, M, Ringma, J

Context: Over the last 230 years, the Australian terrestrial mammal fauna has suffered a very high rate of decline and extinction relative to other continents. Predation by the introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cat (Felis catus) is implicated in many of these extinctions, and in the ongoing decline of many extant species.

Aims : To assess the degree to which Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species are susceptible at the population level to predation by the red fox and feral cat, and to allocate each species to a category of predator susceptibility.

Methods: We collated the available evidence and complemented this with expert opinion to categorise each Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species (extinct and extant) into one of four classes of population-level susceptibility to introduced predators (i.e. 'extreme', 'high', 'low' or 'not susceptible'). We then compared predator susceptibility with conservation status, body size and extent of arboreality; and assessed changes in the occurrence of species in different predator-susceptibility categories between 1788 and 2017.

Key results: Of 246 Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal species (including extinct species), we conclude that 37 species are (or were) extremely predator-susceptible; 52 species are highly predator-susceptible; 112 species are of low susceptibility; and 42 species are not susceptible to predators. Confidence in assigning species to predator-susceptibility categories was strongest for extant threatened mammal species and for extremely predator-susceptible species. Extinct and threatened mammal species are more likely to be predator-susceptible than Least Concern species; arboreal species are less predator-susceptible than ground-dwelling species; and medium-sized species (35 g-3.5 kg) are more predator-susceptible than smaller or larger species.

Conclusions: The effective control of foxes and cats over large areas is likely to assist the population-level recovery of similar to 63 species - the number of extant species with extreme or high predator susceptibility - which represents similar to 29% of the extant Australian terrestrial non-volant mammal fauna.


Publication title

Wildlife Research










School of Natural Sciences


C S I R O Publishing

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright CSIRO 2018. Journal compilation

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Animal adaptation to climate change; Animal welfare