Wild dogma I: an examination of recent 'evidence' for dingo regulation of invasive mesopredator release in Australia

Allen, Benjamin L. and Engeman, Richard M. and Allen, Lee R. (2011) Wild dogma I: an examination of recent 'evidence' for dingo regulation of invasive mesopredator release in Australia. Current Zoology, 57 (5). pp. 568-583. ISSN 1674-5507

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Abstract

There is growing interest in the role that apex predators play in shaping terrestrial ecosystems and maintaining trophic cascades. In line with the mesopredator release hypothesis, Australian dingoes (Canis lupus dingo and hybrids) are assumed by many to regulate the abundance of invasive mesopredators, such as red foxes Vulpes vulpes and feral cats Felis catus, thereby providing indirect benefits to various threatened vertebrates. Several recent papers have claimed to provide evidence for the biodiversity benefits of dingoes in this way. Nevertheless, in this paper we highlight several critical weaknesses in the methodological approaches used in many of these reports, including lack of consideration for seasonal and habitat differences in activity, the complication of simple track-based indices by incorporating difficult-to-meet assumptions, and a reduction in sensitivity for assessing populations by using binary measures rather than potentially continuous measures. Of the 20 studies reviewed, 15 of them (75%) contained serious methodological flaws, which may partly explain the inconclusive nature of the literature investigating interactions between invasive Australian predators. We therefore assert that most of the 'growing body of evidence' for mesopredator release is merely an inconclusive growing body of literature only. We encourage those interested in studying the ecological roles of dingoes relative to invasive mesopredators and native prey species to account for the factors we identify, and caution the value of studies that have not done so.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Institute for Agriculture and the Environment
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2016 03:37
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2018 01:21
Uncontrolled Keywords: activity index; apex predator; Canis lupus dingo; experimental design; mesopredator release; sampling
Fields of Research : 06 Biological Sciences > 0608 Zoology > 060899 Zoology not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960599 Ecosystem Assessment and Management not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1093/czoolo/57.5.568
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/29502

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