Habitat model of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) for the Swiss Jura Mountains, Plateau and near Pre-alpine regions
Weber, S., 2018: Habitat model of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) for the Swiss Jura Mountains, Plateau and near Pre-alpine regions. Master thesis. 34 p.
Weber, S., 2018: Habitat model of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) for the Swiss Jura Mountains, Plateau and near Pre-alpine regions. Master Thesis ETHZ, D-USYS. Supervisors: PD Dr. J. Bolliger & Dr. Robert Pazur (WSL), Dr. Fridolin Zimmermann (KORA)
After the near extinction in the 19th century - caused by habitat degradation and extensive hunting - the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) is slowly returning to its former habitat in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Listed as “least concerned” in the IUCN red list, little is known about this elusive cat. In order to gain a better understanding of the environmental requirements and to draw potential occurrence maps, a habitat modelling was carried out in this study. For this purpose, the wildcat observations were supplemented by background points and then equipped with various environmental variables. After a subsampling of the data sets, the prediction performance of the variables was tested with Boosted Regression Trees to sort out unimportant and correlated predictors. Of 26 initial variables, 15 could be skipped. According to the temporal distribution of the observations, a whole-year and a winter model were created with two different background data sets each. With the eleven final variables, the four models were used to assess the predictor performance. Distance to forest edge, Snow-water equivalent and Elevation are among the best predictors, while Roughness and Aspect are among the weakest. After a model performance test, the two best ones were used to extrapolate to the biogeographical regions of the Jura Mountains, the Swiss Plateau and the Pre-Alps. With two raster resolutions of 1km2 and 1ha, the potential wildcat habitat was assessed using the predictive values and compared with unused data points and GPS-locations of three wildcats. According to the three study areas the model performance is high for the Jura Mountains, medium for the Pre-Alps and low for the Plateau.