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

The behavioural ecology of dingoes in north-western Australia. IV. Social and spatial organistaion, and movements

PC Thomson

Wildlife Research 19(5) 543 - 563
Published: 1992


Dingoes, Canis familiaris dingo, were studied on the lower Fortescue River during a period when minimal natural or artificial disturbances occurred. From 1975 to 1978, 34 radio-collared dingoes were tracked and observed from aircraft for 2-36 months (mean 11 months). Tracking yielded 9179 daytime and 2229 night-time locations. In all, 25% of dingoes sighted were alone, 21% were in pairs, and 54% were in groups of three or more. Most dingoes were members of five discrete packs (mean monthly pack size 3-12 members) that occupied long-term essentially non-overlapping territories. Territory size (44.5-113.2km*2) was not correlated with pack size. Between-pack encounters were extremely rare. Members of packs were most often seen in smaller groups of variable size (mean 2.2, range 1-12); the largest observed groups of pack members were associated with feeding and hunting activities involving large prey. Dingoes were most gregarious during the prebreeding season. Lone dingoes (n = 3) displayed no pack affiliations, occupied large ranges that overlapped the mosaic of pack territories, and avoided encounters with packs. Dingoes utilised some habitats more heavily than others, with activity often being centred on riverine areas. The greatest seasonal influence on movement patterns occurred during the nursing period when breeding females were mostly confined to den areas. Implications for the control of dingoes, including the strategy of confining control work to buffer zones, are discussed.


© CSIRO 1992

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