Dingoes remain top predator despite control measures
10 Jul 2013
The culling of dingoes in Australia to protect livestock does not open the way for other predators to take their place finds research in BioMed Central’s open access journal Frontiers in Zoology. Dingoes and red foxes are temporarily suppressed, while feral cats and goannas are not affected, which suggests that careful planning of culls, around calving time to save livestock from attacks, should not in the long term harm dingo populations or other animals in the ecosystem.
Top predators like dingoes are often culled to protect livestock. It has been suggested that this practice may lead to increased numbers of next level predators such as red foxes, feral cats and goannas. This might then lead to a decrease in the numbers of smaller native prey normally eaten by these mesopredators, and ultimately a destruction of indigenous ecosystems.
Researchers from the University of Queensland set up specific areas with no baiting, and areas where dingoes were killed using poisoned bait within nine large cattle ranches across Australia - in the same way as is normally practised in ranches. The effect of this on predator populations was monitored every three months for up to 5 years on each ranch.
Benjamin Allen who led the study explained, “In any particular season, at any site, there were more dingoes, foxes, cats, and goannas in unbaited rather than baited areas demonstrating that the mesopredators did not benefit from lower numbers of dingoes (and in the case of foxes, were also killed by the same bait). Dingo populations recovered to pre-control levels within months, which means that baiting does not create the conditions required for mesopredators to increase. This helps us to understand why, despite years of control measures the numbers of dingoes in Australia is at an all time high.”
- ENDS –
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Notes to Editors
1. Intraguild relationships between sympatric predators exposed to lethal control: predator manipulation experiments
Benjamin L Allen, Lee R Allen, Richard M Engeman and Luke K-P Leung
Frontiers in Zoology 2013, 10:39 doi:10.1186/1742-9994-10-39
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All images are to be credited to Benjamin L Allen.
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