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

Fleming, Peter J. S., 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: 119-131. doi:10.1071/AM11012

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Author Fleming, Peter J. S.
Allen, Benjamin L.
Ballard, Guy-Anthony
Title Seven considerations about dingoes as biodiversity engineers: the socioecological niches of dogs in Australia
Journal name Australian Mammalogy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0310-0049
Publication date 2012-01-01
Year available 2012
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1071/AM11012
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 34
Issue 1
Start page 119
End page 131
Total pages 13
Place of publication Collingwood, Vic., Australia
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Language eng
Subject 1105 Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
1103 Animal Science and Zoology
Abstract 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. Domestication and feralisation of dingoes have resulted in behavioural changes that continue to expose a broad range of native and introduced fauna to predation. Dingoes and other dogs are classic mesopredators, while humans are the apex predator and primary ecosystem engineers in Australia. Anthropogenic landscape changes could prevent modern dingoes from fulfilling their pre-European roles.Dingoes are known to exploit many of the same species they are often presumed to 'protect', predisposing them to present direct risks to many threatened species. 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. 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. 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.
Keyword Apex predators
Canis lupus dingo
Free-ranging dogs
Human values
Mesopredator release hypothesis
Threatened species
Trophic cascade
North-Western Australia
Fox vulpes-vulpes
Arid Australia
Invasive mesopredator
Behavioral ecology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Official 2013 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 38 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 48 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 May 2013, 23:42:19 EST by Mary-Anne Marrington on behalf of School of Animal Studies