This is a list of peer-reviewed scientific journals from Australia’s leading Dingo experts and scientists.
Australia’s largest land carnivore, the dingo, has been targeted by control programs in many agricultural landscapes since European settlement because of the judgement that dingoes cause costs to producers through the killing of livestock. As Australian pastoralists, we challenge the assumption that dingoes will only cause costs to producers. Based on our personal experiences and from research, we provide an alternative view, namely that in certain circumstances, there are major economic and ecological benefits of maintaining dingoes in grazing landscapes by controlling the unmanaged grazing pressure. As cattle producers, we have obtained significant financial gains for our family businesses, and environmental benefits on our properties by maintaining dingoes.
Dingoes greatly reduce high-density populations of larger kangaroo species and some feral animals, especially goats. Such unmanaged grazing is persistently identified as a major factor in landscape degradation across large areas of Australian rangelands. The Australian pastoral industry as a whole, and the government departments that support it, need to evaluate, consider and discuss the economic and ecological benefits as well as the costs of maintaining dingoes in Australian pastoral landscapes.
Lethal control through the application of 1080 baits is widely used in Australia to manage the negative impacts of wild dogs (dingoes, wild domestic dogs and their hybrids) on cattle production, but its effectiveness in this regard is not well understood. The key results from this study was that no difference was detected in observed levels of calf damage or calf loss between poisoned and non-poisoned areas. The results add to the growing body of consistent evidence that contemporary dingo control practices yield little benefit to rangeland beef producers most of the time. Routine dingo baiting (as currently undertaken) may be largely unnecessary for beef cattle producers in arid and semiarid areas. Alternative strategies and practices to reduce dingo mauling and predation impacts should be investigated using replicated and controlled field studies.
Hybridisation between wild and domestic canids is a global conservation and management issue. In Australia, Dingoes are a distinct lineage of wild-living canid with a controversial domestication status. They are mainland Australia’s apex terrestrial predator. There is ongoing concern that the identity of dingoes has been threatened from breeding with domestic dogs, and that feral dogs have established populations in rural Australia. We collate the results of microsatellite DNA testing from 5039 wild canids to explore patterns of domestic dog ancestry in dingoes and observations of feral domestic dogs across the continent. Only 31 feral dogs were detected, challenging the perception that feral dogs are widespread in Australia. First generation dingo/dog hybrids were similarly rare, with only 27 individuals identified. Spatial patterns of genetic ancestry across Australia identified that dingo populations in northern, western and central Australia were largely free from domestic dog introgression. Our findings challenge the perception that dingoes are virtually extinct in the wild and that feral dogs are common. A shift in terminology from wild dog to dingo would better reflect the identity of these wild canids and allow more nuanced debate about the balance between conservation and management of dingoes in Australia.
2020 – The Dingo as a management tool on a beef cattle enterprise in western Queensland
This is a paper from third-generation cattle grazier and naturalist Angus Emmott of Noonbah Station. Emmott highlights the benefits of maintaining a stable dingo population, both for his cattle enterprise and the health of his local ecology. He also calls attention to the adverse effects when the dingo is removed from the landscape or has their populations destabilized and fractured through relentless lethal control programs.
The taxonomic status and systematic nomenclature of the Australian dingo remain contentious, resulting in decades of inconsistent applications in the scientific literature and in policy. Prompted by a recent publication calling for Dingoes to be considered taxonomically as domestic dogs (Jackson et al. 2017, Zootaxa 4317, 201-224), we review the issues of the taxonomy applied to canids, and summarise the main differences between dingoes and other canids. We conclude that (1) the Australian Dingo is a geographically isolated (allopatric) species from all other Canis, and is genetically, phenotypically, ecologically, and behaviourally distinct; and (2) the Dingo appears largely devoid of many of the signs of domestication, including surviving largely as a wild animal in Australia for millennia.
The case of defining Dingo taxonomy provides a quintessential example of the disagreements between species concepts (e.g., biological, phylogenetic, ecological, morphological). Applying the biological species concept sensu stricto to the dingo as suggested by Jackson et al. (2017) and consistently across the Canidae would lead to an aggregation of all Canis populations, implying for example that dogs and wolves are the same species. Such an aggregation would have substantial implications for taxonomic clarity, biological research, and wildlife conservation.
Any changes to the current nomen of the Dingo (currently Canis dingo Meyer, 1793), must therefore offer a strong, evidence-based argument in favour of it being recognised as a subspecies of Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758, or as Canis familiaris Linnaeus, 1758, and a successful application to the International Commission for Zoological Nomenclature – neither of which can be adequately supported. Although there are many species concepts, the sum of the evidence presented in this paper affirms the classification of the dingo as a distinct taxon, namely Canis dingo.
Recent research has documented the positive role that dingoes have on biodiversity conservation through their regulation of trophic cascades. Efforts to harness the ecological interactions of dingoes are hampered by the uncertain taxonomy of the dingo. In particular, the dingo’s taxonomic status is clouded by hybridization with feral dogs and confusion about how to distinguish ‘pure’ dingoes from dingo-dog hybrids. Many managers currently cull animals they believe to be hybrids based on pelage coloration.
Data suggests that controlling ‘wild dog’s to protect calves on extensive beef cattle enterprises is unnecessary in most years because ‘wild dogs’ do not routinely prey on calves. In those seasons when wild dog predation might occur, baiting can be counter-productive. Baiting appears to produce perturbations that change the way surviving or re-colonising ‘wild dog’ populations select and handle prey and/or how they interact with livestock.
The conservation of terrestrial carnivores is hampered by economic conﬂicts between predation and livestock production. The dingo Canis dingo is the top predator in Australia’s terrestrial ecosystems but its abundance is controlled because it preys on livestock. Dingo control (poisoning, shooting) is associated with increased densities of wild herbivores, which can lead to reduced cattle condition and fertility through competition for pasture.
Wild predators are a serious threat to livestock in Australia. Livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) may be able to reduce or eliminate predation, but their effectiveness in Australian grazing systems has not been systematically evaluated. In particular, little is known about the effectiveness of LGDs in situations where they range freely over large areas in company with large numbers of livestock.
Dingo control (1080 baiting) increased the magnitude and frequency of predation loss of calves relative to adjacent areas where dingoes were left alone. Dingo control primarily results in reduced pack size. Reduced pack size and pack coordination prevent disturbed dingo populations from efficiently capturing the larger macropod prey.
Lethal control of wild dogs – that is Dingo and Dingo/Dog hybrids – to reduce livestock predation in Australian rangelands is claimed to cause continental-scale impacts on biodiversity. Although top predator populations may recover numerically after baiting, they are predicted to be functionally different and incapable of fulfilling critical ecological roles.
There is global interest in restoring populations of apex predators, both to conserve them and to harness their ecological services. In Australia, reintroduction of dingoes (Canis dingo) has been proposed to help restore degraded rangelands. This proposal is based on theories and the results of studies suggesting that dingoes can suppress populations of prey (especially medium- and large-sized herbivores) and invasive predators such as red foxes and feral cats that prey on threatened native species. However, the idea of dingo reintroduction has met opposition, especially from scientists who query the dingo’s positive effects for some species or in some environments.
Carnivore predation on livestock often leads people to retaliate. Persecution by humans has contributed strongly to global endangerment of carnivores. Preventing livestock losses would help to achieve three goals common to many human societies: preserve nature, protect animal welfare, and safeguard human livelihoods.
The density of red kangaroos in the sheep country of the north-west corner of New South Wales is much higher now that it was last century. It is also much higher than the present density across the dingo fence in the adjacent cattle country of South Australia and Queensland. The past and present patterns of red kangaroo density are attributable directly to predation by dingoes, which can hold kangaroos at very low density in open country if the dingoes have access to an abundant alternative prey.
Dingo predation can reduce the profitability of affected sheep properties and has important negative social effect on rural communities, and that exclusion fences and a range of lethal control methods are options for reducing those negative effects. However, it is argued that the importance of dingoes as a cause of the decline in Australia’s sheep flock has been overstated.
Top predators in terrestrial ecosystems may limit populations of smaller predators that could otherwise become over-abundant and cause declines and extinctions of some prey. Results suggest that the rarity of dingoes was a critical factor which allowed smaller predators to overwhelm marsupial prey, triggering extinction over much of the continent. This is evidence of a crucial role of top predators in maintaining prey biodiversity at large scales in terrestrial ecosystems and suggests that many remaining Australian mammals would benefit from the positive management of dingoes.
Recent advances highlight the potential for predators to restore ecosystems and confer resilience against globally threatening processes, including climate change and biological invasions. Restoring the functional roles of predators is hindered by significant challenges. Management must recognise that predators can have both desirable and undesirable impacts depending on ecosystem contexts, and also that the ecological effectiveness of predator populations might be dictated as much by their social structure and behaviour as by population density.
Top-order predators often have positive effects on biological diversity owing to their key functional roles in regulating trophic cascades and other ecological processes. The loss of Dingoes has been linked to widespread losses of small and medium-sized native mammals, the depletion of plant biomass due to the effects of irrupting herbivore populations and increased predation rates by red foxes.
Using field data collected throughout arid Australia, evidence is provided that removal of a top-predator, the dingo, has cascading effects through lower trophic levels. Dingo removal was linked to increased activity of herbivores and an invasive mesopredator, the red fox, and to the loss of grass cover and native species of small mammals.
Apex predators can benefit ecosystems through topdown control of mesopredators and herbivores. However, apex predators are often subject to lethal control aimed at minimizing attacks on livestock. Lethal control can affect both the abundance and behaviour of apex predators. These changes could affect both the abundance and behaviour of mesopredators. Results suggest that effective Dingo control not only leads to higher abundance of feral cats, but allows them to optimize hunting behaviour when Dingoes are less active. The double effect could amplify the impacts of Dingo control on prey species selected by cats. In areas managed for conservation, stable Dingo populations may thus contribute to management objectives by restricting feral cat access to prey populations.
In arid environments, ecological refuges are often conceptualised as places where animal species can persist through drought owing to the localised persistence of moisture and nutrients. The mesopredator release hypothesis (MRH) predicts that reduced abundance of top-order predators results in an increase in the abundance of smaller predators (mesopredators) and consequently has detrimental impacts on the existence of the prey of the smaller predators. Top-order predators, such as Dingoes, could have an important functional role in broad scale biodiversity conservation programmes by reducing the impacts of mesopredators.
The following articles are behind pay-walls: the complete articles are inaccessible unless you would like to pay for the article, or if you have a ResearchGate/similar account. A brief overview is included, direct from the author’s abstracts that are available freely online.
Apex predators occupy the top level of the trophic cascade and often perform regulatory functions in many ecosystems. Their removal has been shown to increase herbivore and mesopredator populations, and ultimately reduce species diversity. In Australia, it has been proposed that the apex predator, the dingo (Canis dingo), has the potential to act as a biological control agent for two introduced mesopredators, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and the feral cat (Felis catus). Understanding the mechanisms of interaction among the three species may assist in determining the effectiveness of the dingo as a control agent and the potential benefits to lower-order species.
Kangaroo abundance was associated most strongly with bottom-up forces (rainfall) as expected, but a combination of bottom-up (rainfall) and top-down (dingo control) processes best explained variation in kangaroo abundance trends. Supplementary economic analysis indicated that ongoing kangaroo competition with cattle is far more costly to beef producers than the occasional predation of calves by dingoes. These results suggest that lethal top-predator control practices in arid Australia may not be achieving their fundamental aim (to increase livestock production) because increased competition from native herbivores freed from top-predator suppression erodes the accrued economic benefits of a reduction in livestock predation. These data suggest that retaining top-predators outside reserves in agro-ecosystems may be advantageous to livestock producers and ecosystems where and/or when top-predators exert stronger effects on livestock competitors than they do on livestock.
Beef cattle production is the major agricultural pursuit in the arid rangelands of Australia. Dingo predation is often considered a significant threat to production in rangeland beef herds, but there is a need for improved understanding of the effects of dingo baiting on reproductive wastage. The overall scale and timing of fetal/calf loss was not correlated with dingo activity, time of year, a satellite-derived measure of landscape greenness (normalised difference vegetation index), or activity of alternative dingo prey. It is likely that ground baiting, as applied, was ineffective in protecting calves, or that site effects, variable cow age and disease confounded results.