Feb. 1, 2013 — The population of Yelkouan Shearwater of the French island of Le Levant is seriously under threat due to the invasion of feral cats, according to a French and Spanish joint study. The archipelago is home to the main colonies of this species.
Feral cats are considered one of the most dangerous invading species for animals native to Mediterranean Islands. Researchers from the Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology (IPNA-CSIC) and France's Mediterranean Institute of Biology and Ecology studied the diet of these felines on the island of Le Levant in the French Riviera for two years, in order to get a picture of their impact on the Yelkouan Shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) population. The results indicate that they are highly vulnerable to these predators, which now see them as a "main course".
"These seabirds only live on islands, which in the past were free from predators. As a result, they are agile at sea as they only eat fish and squad yet are feeble on the land," as explained by Elsa Bonnaud, lead researcher of the study in the Island Ecology and Evolution Group.
The Yelkouan Shearwater nests on the ground in small caves and is characterised by being clumsy. In other words, it cannot escape and its resources for defence are scarce because historically it has not evolved in the presence of predators.