The wildcat (Felis silvestris, Schreber 1777) is the only cat native to Catalonia, having inhabited our forests since the time of the Neanderthals1. However, they are an unknown quantity for the general public, who barely know about their existence.
It is thought that their distribution in the Iberian Peninsula is highly discontinuous, although the state of their populations is relatively unknown; there is no data on their population density anywhere in the peninsula.
This study aims to discover the presence of wildcats in Catalan territory, estimate their population density and better understand which habitats are best suited to the species.
It is also intended to evaluate the degree to which there is interaction between wildcats and domestic cats, as well as the likelihood of hybrid individuals being produced. This information will make it possible to update the distribution data on wildcats in Catalonia, as well as estimating the degree to which domestic cats are a threat. This information is essential for developing conservation plans and initiatives.
1) Update the data on the wildcat's distribution area in Catalonia, giving priority to relatively unstudied areas.
2) Determine which habitats are favourable or unfavourable for the presence of wildcats in Catalonia.
3) Assess the coexistence in time and space between wildcats and domestic cats.
4) Determine the effects of different variables (e.g. the distance from urban areas or the type of habitat) on the presence of domestic cats in wildcat territory.
4) Make a continual map of habitat suitability for the presence of wildcats in Catalonia.
5) Make a continual map showing the probability of domestic cat and wildcat coexistence, in order to predict the areas with the greatest risk of hybridisation.
6) Provide information on areas of interest for the conservation of wildcats and areas for prioritising initiatives aimed at reducing contact between wildcats and domestic cats.