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

Does dingo predation control the densities of kangaroos and emus?

G. Caughley, G. C. Grigg, J. Caughley and G. J. E. Hill

Australian Wildlife Research 7(1) 1 - 12
Published: 1980


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 picture is similar for emus. Farther east, about halfway along the New South Wales–Queensland border, no difference in density between the two States could be detected for red kangaroos, grey kangaroos or emus. We examine and discard several hypotheses to account for the density contrasts in the west and the lack of them farther east, deeming it unlikely that the pattern reflects environmental gradients, or differences in plant composition and growth, hunting pressure or availability of water. Instead, we favour this hypothesis: that the past and present patterns of 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.


© CSIRO 1980

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