Evaluating the role of the Dingo as a trophic regulator: Additional practical suggestions


  • Andrew W. Claridge,

  • Rob Hunt

  • Andrew Claridge is the Research Scientist coordinating the Dogs in Space research programme for New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change (Parks and Wildlife Group, Planning and Performance Unit, Southern Branch, PO Box 2115, Queanbeyan, NSW 2620, Australia; Tel. +61 (0) 2 6298 9700; Email: andrew.claridge@environment.nsw.gov.au). Dr Claridge is also a Visiting Fellow at the School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia. Rob Hunt is a Project Officer in the same Parks and Wildlife Group and coordinates a major research project on wild dog management using a cooperative landscape model approach, which includes the development of innovative control techniques (Email: rob.hunt@environment.nsw.gov.au).


Summary  A recent review paper by Glen et al. in Austral Ecology (2007, Volume 32, 492–501) canvassed anecdotal and scientific evidence relating to the role of the Dingo as regulator of ecosystem processes in Australian landscapes. Their review forms part of an increasing volume of literature about the ecological roles of top-order or apex predators around the globe. Although recognizing the possible functional significance of the Dingo is a noteworthy subject matter, the management of the species at an ecosystem scale is complicated by a range of practical and theoretical issues. Perhaps the most significant challenge is the degree to which the Dingo is hybridized with the domestic Dog gone wild (Feral Dog). We suggest here that there is a range of research questions that need to be experimentally addressed as a matter of urgency. This includes but is not limited to understanding the ecological significance of Dingo–Dog hybridization. Such research should precede other research initiatives suggested by Glen et al. such as reintroducing individuals of the pure Dingo back into landscapes. This is particularly the case for south-eastern mainland Australia where the incidence of Dingo–Dog hybridization is high and the ecological consequences of this poorly understood. Finally, new terminology may be needed relating to Dingo and/or Wild Dog management that more clearly reflects both the genetic status of the species as well as its ecological function.