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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 33(1)

The diet of the dingo (Canis lupus dingo) in north-eastern Australia with comments on its conservation implications

L. A. Brook A C and A. S. Kutt B

A School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
B CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Tropical and Arid Systems, PMB PO, Aitkenvale, Qld 4814, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: leila.brook@jcu.edu.au

The Rangeland Journal 33(1) 79-85 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/RJ10052
Submitted: 30 September 2011  Accepted: 12 February 2011   Published: 23 March 2011


 
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Abstract

The dingo (Canis lupus dingo and hybrids) is the top mammalian predator on the Australian mainland and is thought to control and suppress populations of native herbivores and smaller mesopredators, including the introduced feral cat (Felis catus). Dingoes have been persecuted as a threat to domestic livestock, and local population decreases have been linked to increasing mesopredator populations, which in turn may cause the decline of small native mammals. There is little data on the dingo’s dietary composition in northern Australia. We examined the diet of dingoes in north-eastern Queensland via scat collection and analysis. A total of 178 scats were examined between 1994 and 2000, comprised of 185 prey items and representing 21 discrete prey types. Native mammal prey was the most frequent dietary component (69.7%), with large- to medium-sized macropods (Macropus spp. and Wallabia bicolor) present in the majority of samples (51.1%). Critical Weight Range species were found in 18.0% of the records. Introduced species such as the European hare/rabbit (Lepus capensis/Oryctolagus cuniculus) and cattle (Bos taurus) were found in smaller amounts (14.6 and 10.1%, respectively). These results suggest that dingoes prey considerably on large- to medium-sized macropods in our study area (north-eastern Australia). Dingo diet tends to differ regionally where dingoes prey on native species that are locally common or abundant. Finally, the diets of the dingo and feral cat do not appear to considerably overlap in our study area, which may have implications for mesopredator suppression.

Additional keywords: competition, faecal analysis, predator, scat, wild dog.


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