Wildcats threatened by their domestic cousins

European wildcats, thought to be extinct 50 or so years ago in the Jura mountains, have since recolonised part of their former territory. This resurgence in an area occupied by domestic cats has gone hand-in-hand with genetic crosses between the two species. The hybridisation between wild and domesticated organisms is known to endanger the gene pool of wild species.

Mathias Currat‘s and Juan Montoya‘s groups, in collaboration with the University of Zurich and the University of Oxford, modelled the interactions between the two species to predict the future of the wildcat in the mountainous region of the Swiss Jura. The different scenarios modelled by the scientists show that within 200 to 300 years —a very short time in evolutionary terms— hybridisation will entail the irreversible genetic replacement of wildcats, making it impossible to distinguish them from their domestic cousins, as is already the case in Scotland and Hungary.

This article was published in Evolutionary Applications on Sept. 2, 2020.

Press release

This study is also covered by other media :

Le chat sauvage va tendre à disparaître selon une étude Léman Bleu Télé / Le Journal, 29.09.2020
Le chat sauvage du Jura bientôt avalé par son cousin domestique RTS La 1ère / Journal 10h / CQFD*, 30.09.2020
Le chat sauvage est menacé de disparition… RTS La 1ère / La Matinale / Journal 7h / L’invité 7.38, 30.09.2020
Sauvage contre domestique: la bataille des chats est déclarée Tribune de Genève, 30.09.2020
Le chat sauvage, victime de son cousin domestique Le Temps, 30.09.2020