Seven considerations about dingoes as biodiversity engineers: the socioecological niches of dogs in Australia

Fleming, Peter J. S. and Allen, Benjamin L. and Ballard, Guy-Anthony (2012) Seven considerations about dingoes as biodiversity engineers: the socioecological niches of dogs in Australia. Australian Mammalogy , 34 (1). pp. 119-123. ISSN 0310-0049


Australian dingoes have recently been suggested as a tool to aid biodiversity conservation through the reversal or prevention of trophic cascades and mesopredator release. However, at least seven ecological and sociological considerations must be addressed before dog populations are positively managed.

1. Domestication and feralisation of dingoes have resulted in behavioural changes that continue to expose a broad range of native and introduced fauna to predation.
2. Dingoes and other dogs are classic mesopredators, while humans are the apex predator and primary ecosystem engineers in Australia.
3. Anthropogenic landscape changes could prevent modern dingoes from fulfilling their pre-European roles.
4. Dingoes are known to exploit many of the same species they are often presumed to ‘protect’, predisposing them to presentdirect risks to many threatened species.
5. The assertion that contemporary dog control facilitates the release of mesopredators disregards the realities of effective dog control, which simultaneously reduces fox and dog abundance and is unlikely to enable increases in fox abundance.
6. The processes affecting threatened fauna are likely a combination of both top-down and bottom-up effects, which will not be solved or reversed by concentrating efforts on managing only predator effects.
7. Most importantly, human social and economic niches are highly variable across the ecosystems where dingoes are present or proposed. Human perceptions will ultimately determine acceptance of positive dingo management.
Outside of an adaptive management framework, positively managing dingoes while ignoring these seven considerations
is unlikely to succeed in conserving native faunal biodiversity but is likely to have negative effects on ecological, social and economic values.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version, in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2016 04:34
Last Modified: 25 May 2017 05:38
Uncontrolled Keywords: apex predators; Canis lupus dingo; free-ranging dogs; human values; mesopredator release hypothesis; reintroduction; threatened species; trophic cascade
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9699 Other Environment > 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1071/AM11012

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