Interactions between dingoes and introduced wild ungulates: concepts, evidence and knowledge gaps


David M. Forsyth, A. David M. Latham, Naomi E. Davis, Peter Caley, Mike Letnic,
Paul D. Moloney, Luke P. Woodford and Andrew P. Woolnough.


The dingo (Canis dingo or C. familiaris, including hybrids with feral dogs) is the apex carnivore on mainland Australia. Fifteen non-native ungulate species have established wild populations in Australia. Dingoes are managed to reduce impacts on domestic ungulates, and introduced wild ungulates are managed to reduce impacts on natural ecosystems and to minimise competition with domestic ungulates. There is speculation about the extent to which (1) dingoes limit the abundances of introduced wild ungulates, and (2) introduced wild ungulates sustain dingo populations.

We reviewed the literature to identify potential ecological interactions between dingoes and introduced wild ungulates, and to synthesise evidence for interactions between dingoes and each ungulate species (including the percentage frequency occurrence (%FO) of ungulates in dingo diets). Eleven of the 15 ungulate species were recorded in the diet of dingoes, with the highest %FO occurrences reported for feral goats (73%) and cattle (60%). Two studies concluded that dingoes reduced ungulate abundances (feral goat (Capra hircus) and feral donkey (Equus asinus)), and two studies concluded that dingoes did not regulate feral pig (Sus scrofa) abundances. A fifth study concluded that dingoes exhibited a Type III functional response to increasing sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) abundances. A sixth study concluded that dingoes made relatively little use of hunter-shot sambar deer carcasses.

We propose that interactions between dingoes and introduced wild ungulates depend on the sex–age classes vulnerable to dingo predation, dingo pack sizes, the availability of escape terrain for ungulates and the availability of alternative foods for dingoes. The interplay between environmental conditions and the population growth rate of ungulates, and hence their ability to sustain losses from predation, could also be important. We predict that dingoes will have most impact on the abundance of smaller ungulate species and neonates.

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