Reintroducing the dingo: the risk of dingo predation to threatened vertebrates of western New South Wales

Allen, B. L. and Fleming, P. J. S. (2012) Reintroducing the dingo: the risk of dingo predation to threatened vertebrates of western New South Wales. Wildlife Research, 39 (1). pp. 35-50. ISSN 1035-3712


Context. The reintroduction of dingoes into sheep-grazing areas south-east of the dingo barrier fence has been suggested as a mechanism to suppress fox and feral-cat impacts. Using the Western Division of New South Wales as a case study, Dickman et al. (2009) recently assessed the risk of fox and cat predation to extant threatened species and concluded that reintroducing dingoes into the area would have positive effects for most of the threatened vertebrates there, aiding their recovery through trophic cascade effects. However, they did not formally assess the risk of dingo predation to the same threatened species.
Aims. To assess the risk of dingo predation to the extant and locally extinct threatened vertebrates of western New South Wales using methods amenable to comparison with Dickman et al. (2009).
Methods. The predation-risk assessment method used in Dickman et al. (2009) for foxes and cats was applied here to dingoes, with minor modification to accommodate the dietary differences of dingoes. This method is based on six independent biological attributes, primarily reflective of potential vulnerability characteristics of the prey. Individual attribute scores were used to derive an overall risk score.
Key results. Up to 75 (94%) of the 80 extant species were predicted to be at risk of dingo predation (71% at high risk) regardless of any effect dingoes might have on foxes or cats. Upto 17 of the 21 (81%) locally extinct species were predicted to be at high risk of dingo predation using this approach. The re-establishment of even low-density dingo populations may have negative effects on at least 22% of extant threatened vertebrates.
Conclusions. The generic risk-assessment method was insensitive, and experienced difficulty in describing the true nature of canid predation risk. Despite this weakness, however, it is clear that several threatened vertebrates are susceptible to dingo predation. Prior to the re-establishment of dingoes, we recommend that dingo predation risks to all vertebrates (threatened or otherwise) be assessed using more sensitive and descriptive techniques, and we strongly caution against the positive management of dingoes under current ecological conditions.
Implications. The results of this study imply that dingoes present similar levels of direct risk to threatened species as foxes and feral cats, and dingo predation of threatened species should be formally considered in any proposal encouraging dingo populations in western New South Wales.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2016 01:54
Last Modified: 25 May 2017 05:55
Uncontrolled Keywords: apex predator; Canis lupus dingo; mesopredator suppression; predation-risk assessment; reintroduction; threatened fauna
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960599 Ecosystem Assessment and Management not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1071/WR11128

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