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24 December 2015 Feral cats and the fitoaty: first population assessment of the black forest cat in Madagascar's rainforests
Zach J. Farris, Hailey M. Boone, Sarah Karpanty, Asia Murphy, Felix Ratelolahy, Vonjy Andrianjakarivelo, Marcella J. Kelly
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Abstract

Despite exceptionally high levels of biodiversity and endemism found in Madagascar, much of its wildlife remains little studied, particularly the carnivore community. The recently described, little-known black forest cat (locally known as “fitoaty”) is believed to be restricted to NE Madagascar and has been investigated only through village surveys and anecdotal accounts. From 2008 to 2012, we photographically sampled 7 forest sites with varying degrees of degradation and fragmentation across Makira Natural Park with the goals of: 1) estimating landscape occupancy for fitoaty (Felis spp.), 2) identifying variables influencing fitoaty occupancy, and 3) comparing fitoaty and feral cat (Felis spp.) occupancy across the landscape. We observed higher occupancy for fitoaty, minimal co-occurrence between fitoaty and feral cats (n = 2 sites), and strong divergence in habitat use. We provide the 1st assessment of fitoaty morphology, including comparisons with anecdotal reports, and the 1st population assessment of Madagascar's exotic cat community with insights into factors associated with carnivore population trends in Madagascar. We suggest the described fitoaty is a phenotypically different form of the feral cat, but additional research is needed. Targeted management plans are needed to diminish the spread and potential negative effects of invasive cats across this important biologically diverse ecoregion.

© 2015 American Society of Mammalogists, www.mammalogy.org
Zach J. Farris, Hailey M. Boone, Sarah Karpanty, Asia Murphy, Felix Ratelolahy, Vonjy Andrianjakarivelo, and Marcella J. Kelly "Feral cats and the fitoaty: first population assessment of the black forest cat in Madagascar's rainforests," Journal of Mammalogy 97(2), 518-525, (24 December 2015). https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyv196
Received: 6 May 2015; Accepted: 22 November 2015; Published: 24 December 2015
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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