We are EUROWILDCAT, an open, collaborative project based on a spatial database that stores shared European wildcat (Felis silvestris) data to investigate its ecology across environmental gradients in order to understand how the species responds to specific conditions, such as habitat changes and impact of human activities. We aim to promote comparative theoretical and applied research into European wildcat behaviour and ecology at the European scale. Our open, bottom-up and cooperative structure helps spur proactive engagement of our members and assures that they are involved throughout all stages of research. Since our start in 2018, several working groups have been established to address ecological and conservation-related questions, prepare research protocols, and push methodological advances forward.
The European wildcat is a medium-sized carnivore (body weight: 3-5 Kg) distributed in fragmented populations from southern Italy to Scotland and from Portugal to Azerbaijan, clustered into four continental metapopulations: (1) Western-Central Europe, (2) Apennine Peninsula and Sicily, and (3) Eastern-Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (4) Iberian Peninsula.
The species is protected by the EU Habitat Directives and is listed in Appendix II (CITES) of the Bern Convention. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to human activity are major threats to the species across the European contemporary multi-use landscapes. Roads, in particular, reduce gene flow between wildcat populations and ultimately impact wildcat survival. Furthermore, introgressive hybridisation is considered a serious threat in some parts of its distribution, in particularly Scotland (Gerngross et al., 2022).
The distribution range of the European wildcat and further information about its status and threats can be found in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species at this link.