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Ecology

Killing dingoes has side effects

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Efforts to control populations of a top predator in Australia have had unintended ecological effects — decreased vegetation and fewer small mammals.

In southeastern Australia, government officials have been poisoning dingoes (Canis lupus dingo) to reduce the predator's impact on livestock. Mike Letnic at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and his team compared seven sites in the eucalyptus forests of southeastern Australia, in which dingoes are controlled, with the same number of ecologically similar sites where the animals are left alone. Areas where dingoes are killed contained more of the animal's prey, such as kangeroos, but less understory vegetation and fewer small mammals.

As the prey populations grow in areas with dingo control, these animals consume more vegetation, reducing the cover under which small mammals can hide from their predators.

Proc. R. Soc. B 281, 20133094 (2014)

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Killing dingoes has side effects. Nature 507, 276 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/507276d

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