In defense of dingoes
Controlling the dingo population may have disastrous consequences, including a decline in vegetation and an increased number of herbivores.
Image: John Carnemolla/Shutterstock

Without predators like dingoes to control kangaroo populations, culling may be necessary to restore the natural balance and ensure the future of the Australian landscape, according to new University of Canberra research.

Director of the University’s Institute for Applied Ecology, Professor David Choquenot, presented the findings of a recently published study that used mathematical models to explore interaction between dingoes, red kangaroos and pasture in the semi-arid rangelands of eastern Australia. 

The research focused on the ‘trophic cascade’ effect, where removal of a predator leads to a decline in vegetation biomass because of an increased number of herbivores.

Professor Choquenot argued that controlling the dingo population in the rangelands will lead to a decrease in vegetation in the area because of the increased number of herbivore kangaroos feeding off the land.

“The existance of trophic cascades in these sorts of systems means that the absence of big predators like dingoes will have effects on vegetation," Professor Choquenot said.

"These effects will no doubt have implications for plants and animals that also occur in these systems.

“Thought needs to be given to the biodiversity implications that the loss of dingoes continues to have, this includes the need to replace dingo predatation on kangaroos with a culling program.

“Further research is needed to better understand how kangaroos should be managed in the absence of dingoes, particularly in relation to biodiversity conservation”.

Editor's note: Original news release can be found here.