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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 35(2)

Examining interactions between dingoes (wild dogs) and mesopredators: the need for caution when interpreting summary data from previously published work

Andrew W. Claridge

Office of Environment and Heritage, Parks and Wildlife Group, Planning and Assessment Team, Metropolitan and Mountains Branch, PO Box 733, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia, and School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Northcott Drive, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia. Email: andrew.claridge@environment.nsw.gov.au

Australian Mammalogy 35(2) 248-250 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AM12026
Submitted: 19 May 2012  Accepted: 22 March 2013   Published: 17 May 2013

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Australian Mammalogy has recently published papers by Fleming et al. (2012) and Johnson and Ritchie (2013). While not diametrically opposed, these papers variously question the notion that wild dogs can help suppress and/or regulate the activity and abundance of foxes and feral cats. They examine the evidence, or lack thereof, for support of the hypothesis. In doing so, it is clear from both papers that (1) hard experimental data to support or refute the hypothesis are mostly lacking, and (2) supporting or refuting the hypothesis is largely contingent on analyses and reanalyses of correlative evidence. Johnson and Ritchie (2013) inadvertently misinterpreted the results of a third study but they were not privy to additional information from that work that does not support their view. The main purpose of this paper is to, first, point out that information, and, second, to argue that until further experimental work is conducted, continuing to define the role and relative importance of wild dogs in Australian landscapes and applying that knowledge in a management setting will be difficult.

Additional keywords: Biodiversity conservation, foxes, feral cats, pest animals.


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