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Feral pigs facilitate hyperpredation by golden eagles and indirectly cause the decline of the island fox

  • Gary W. Roemer (a1), Timothy J. Coonan (a2), David K. Garcelon (a3), Jordi Bascompte (a4) and Lyndal Laughrin (a5)...

Abstract

Introduced species can compete with, prey upon or transmit disease to native forms, resulting in devastation of indigenous communities. A more subtle but equally severe effect of exotic species is as a supplemental food source for predators that allows them to increase in abundance and then overexploit native prey species. Here we show that the introduction of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) to the California Channel Islands has sustained an unnaturally large breeding population of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), a native predator. The resulting increase in predation on the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) has caused the near extirpation of three subspecies of this endemic carnivore. Foxes evolved on the islands over the past 20,000 years, pigs were introduced in the 1850s and golden eagles, historically, were only transient visitors. Although these three species have been sympatric for the past 150 years, this predator-prey interaction is a recent phenomenon, occurring within the last decade. We hypothesize that this interaction ultimately stems from human-induced perturbations to the island, mainland and surrounding marine environments.

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Corresponding author

All correspondence to: Gary W. Roemer, Department of Fishery and Wildlife Sciences, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003-8003, USA. E-mail: groemer@nmsu.edu

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Feral pigs facilitate hyperpredation by golden eagles and indirectly cause the decline of the island fox

  • Gary W. Roemer (a1), Timothy J. Coonan (a2), David K. Garcelon (a3), Jordi Bascompte (a4) and Lyndal Laughrin (a5)...

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