Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats
RESEARCH ARTICLE

An evaluation of genetic analyses, skull morphology and visual appearance for assessing dingo purity: implications for dingo conservation

Amanda E. Elledge A , Lee R. Allen B , Britt-Louise Carlsson C , Alan N. Wilton C and Luke K.-P. Leung A D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Animal Studies, University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia.

B Robert Wicks Pest Animal Research Centre, Biosecurity Queensland, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Toowoomba, Qld 4350, Australia.

C School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

D Corresponding author. Email: luke.leung@uq.edu.au

Wildlife Research 35(8) 812-820 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR07056
Submitted: 17 May 2007  Accepted: 21 August 2007   Published: 16 December 2008

Abstract

The introgression of domestic dog genes into dingo populations threatens the genetic integrity of ‘pure’ dingoes. However, dingo conservation efforts are hampered by difficulties in distinguishing between dingoes and hybrids in the field. This study evaluates consistency in the status of hybridisation (i.e. dingo, hybrid or dog) assigned by genetic analyses, skull morphology and visual assessments. Of the 56 south-east Queensland animals sampled, 39 (69.6%) were assigned the same status by all three methods, 10 (17.9%) by genetic and skull methods, four (7.1%) by genetic and visual methods; and two (3.6%) by skull and visual methods. Pair-wise comparisons identified a significant relationship between genetic and skull methods, but not between either of these and visual methods. Results from surveying 13 experienced wild dog managers showed that hybrids were more easily identified by visual characters than were dingoes. A more reliable visual assessment can be developed through determining the relationship between (1) genetics and phenotype by sampling wild dog populations and (2) the expression of visual characteristics from different proportions and breeds of domestic dog genes by breeding trials. Culling obvious hybrids based on visual characteristics, such as sable and patchy coat colours, should slow the process of hybridisation.


Acknowledgements

We thank the Pest Animal Control Cooperative Research Centre for providing the SEQ animals and their corresponding results from genetic analyses. We also sincerely thank Dr Laurie Corbett (EWL Sciences) for measuring the skulls and calculating skull scores. We appreciate the assistance of Peter Elsworth (Department of Natural Resources and Mines) for assistance with animal handling, and Debbie Melville, Philip Herrington and other students and staff of The University of Queensland for assistance with the preparation of skulls. Kevin Strong (Department of Natural Resources and Mines) and Peter Pavlov (formerly of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines) collected the wild dogs from western Queensland, and Heather Janetzki (Queensland Museum) provided us with access to these skulls. Mark Goullet (Ferals Out) captured the wild dogs from SEQ. We graciously thank the wild dog managers, researchers and dingo conservationists for taking the time to participate in our survey. We thank Allan Lisle (UQ) for statistical advice. This study was conducted under approval of The University of Queensland Animal Ethics Committee, reference no. SAS/32/2004.


References

Banks, S. C. , Horsup, A. , Wilton, A. N. , and Taylor, A. C. (2003). Genetic marker investigation of the source and impact of predation on a highly endangered species. Molecular Ecology 12, 1663–1667.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Barilani, M. , Deregnaucourt, S. , Gallego, S. , Galli, L. , and Mucci, N., , et al. (2005). Detecting hybridization in wild (Coturnix c. coturnix) and domesticated (Coturnix c. japonica) quail populations. Biological Conservation 126, 445–455.
CrossRef |

Corbett, L. (1985). Morphological comparisons of Australian and Thai dingoes: a reappraisal of dingo status, distribution and ancestry. Proceedings of the Ecological Society of Australia 13, 277–291.


Corbett L. (1995). ‘The Dingo in Australia and Asia.’ (University of New South Wales Press: Sydney.)

Corbett L. (2001). The conservation status of the dingo Canis lupus dingo in Australia, with particular reference to New South Wales: threats to pure dingoes and potential solutions. In ‘A Symposium on the Dingo’. (Eds C. R. Dickman and D. Lunney.) pp. 10–19. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Cyranoski, D. (2005). Japan jumps towards personalized medicine. Nature 437, 796.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Daniels, M. J. , and Corbett, L. (2003). Redefining introgressed protected mammals: when is a wildcat a wild cat and a dingo a wild dog? Wildlife Research 30, 213–218.
CrossRef |

Elledge, A. E. , Leung, L. K.-P. , Allen, L. R. , Firestone, K. , and Wilton, A. N. (2006). Assessing the taxonomic status of dingoes Canis familiaris dingo for conservation. Mammal Review 36, 142–156.
CrossRef |

Fleming P. , Corbett L. , Harden R. , and Thomson P. (2001). ‘Managing the Impacts of Dingoes and Other Wild Dogs.’ (Bureau of Rural Sciences: Kingston.)

Francisco, L. V. , Landgston, A. A. , Mellersh, C. S. , Neal, C. L. , and Ostrander, E. A. (1996). A class of highly polymorphic tetranucleotide repeats for canine genetic mapping. Mammalian Genome 7, 359–362.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Fredholm, M. , and Winter, A. K. (1995). Variation of short tandem repeats within and between species belonging to the Canidae family. Mammalian Genome 6, 11–18.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Holmes, N. G. , Mellersh, C. S. , Humphreys, S. J. , Binns, M. M. , Holliman, A. , Curtis, R. , and Sampson, J. (1993). Isolation and characterization of microsatellites from the canine genome. Animal Genetics 24, 289–292.
CAS | PubMed |

Jones, E. (1990). Physical characteristics and taxonomic status of wild canids, Canis familiaris, from the eastern highlands of Victoria. Australian Wildlife Research 17, 69–81.
CrossRef |

McPhee, M. E. (2004). Morphological change in wild and captive oldfield mice Peromyscus polionotus subgriseus. Journal of Mammalogy 85, 1130–1137.
CrossRef |

Mellersh, C. , Holmes, N. , Binns, M. , and Sampson, J. (1994). Dinucleotide repeat polymorphisms at four canine loci (LEI003, LEI007, LEI008 and LEI015). Animal Genetics 25, 125–126.
CAS | PubMed |

Mellersh, C. S. , Langston, A. A. , Acland, G. M. , Fleming, M. A. , Ray, K. , Wiegand, N. A. , Francisco, L. V. , Gibbs, M. , Aguirre, G. D. , and Ostrander, E. A. (1997). A linkage map of the canine genome. Genomics 46, 326–336.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Milham, P. , and Thompson, P. (1976). Relative antiquity of human occupation and extinct fauna at Mudura Cave, south-eastern Western Australia. Mankind 10, 175–180.


Miller, C. R. , Adams, J. R. , and Waits, L. P. (2003). Pedigree-based assignment tests for reversing coyote (Canis latrans) introgression into the wild red wolf (Canis rufus) population. Molecular Ecology 12, 3287–3301.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Newsome, A. E. , and Corbett, L. K. (1982). The identity of the dingo. II. Hybridisation with domestic dogs in captivity and in the wild. Australian Journal of Zoology 30, 365–374.
CrossRef |

Newsome, A. E. , and Corbett, L. K. (1985). The identity of the dingo. III. The incidence of dingoes, dogs and hybrids and their coat colours in remote and settled regions of Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 33, 363–375.
CrossRef |

Newsome, A. E. , Corbett, L. K. , and Carpenter, S. M. (1980). The identity of the dingo. I. Morphological discriminants of dingo and dog skulls. Australian Journal of Zoology 28, 615–625.
CrossRef |

Ostrander, E. A. , Sprague, G. F. , and Rine, J. (1993). Identification and characterization of dinucleotide repeat (CA)n markers for genetic mapping in dog. Genomics 16, 207–213.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Primmer, C. R. , and Matthews, M. E. (1993). Canine tetranucleotide repeat polymorphism at the VIAS-D10 locus. Animal Genetics 24, 332.
CAS | PubMed |

Rasmussen, P. W. , Wheeler, W. E. , Moser, T. J. , Vine, L. E. , Sullivan, B. D. , and Rusch, D. H. (2001). Measurements of Canada goose morphology: sources of error and effects on classification of subspecies. Journal of Wildlife Management 65, 716–725.
CrossRef |

Sanderson A. (1981). ‘The Complete Book of Australian Dogs.’ (The Currawong Press: Sydney.)

Thomson, P. C. (1992). The behavioural ecology of dingoes in north-western Australia. I. The Fortescue River study area and details of captured dingoes. Wildlife Research 19, 509–518.
CrossRef |

Trut, L. N. (1999). Early canid domestication: the farm–fox experiment. American Scientist 87, 160–169.


Trut, L. N. , Plyusnina, I. Z. , and Oskina, I. N. (2004). An experiment on fox domestication and debatable issues of evolution of the dog. Russian Journal of Genetics 40, 644–655.
CrossRef | CAS |

Vaha, J.-P. , and Primmer, C. R. (2006). Efficiency of model-based Bayesian methods for detecting hybrid individuals under different hybridization scenarios and with different numbers of loci. Molecular Ecology 15, 63–72.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Wilton A. (2001). DNA methods of assessing dingo purity. In ‘A Symposium on the Dingo’. (Eds C. R. Dickman and D. Lunney.) pp. 49–56. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Wilton, A. N. , Steward, D. J. , and Zafiris, K. (1999). Microsatellite variation in the Australian dingo. Journal of Heredity 90, 108–111.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Woodall, P. F. , Pavlov, P. , and Twyford, K. L. (1996). Dingoes in Queensland, Australia: skull dimensions and the identity of wild canids. Wildlife Research 23, 581–587.
CrossRef |



Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (21)

View Altmetrics