Oral presentation- Open Session 12th International Mammalogical Congress

The exploitation of anthropogenic resources by dingoes; more than just garbage and scraps (#40)

Huw Nolan 1 , Frances Zewe 1 , Guy Ballard 1 2 , Peter J S Fleming 1 2
  1. University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
  2. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, New South Wales, Australia

The extent to which wild canids, including dingoes, rely on anthropogenic food resources in Australia appears to go beyond the direct use of garbage dumps and human-sourced waste. Wild dogs rely heavily on introduced species as food sources. We compiled data from 40 papers from the literature on dingo and wild dog diets to provide a comprehensive and objective record of the Australia-wide frequency of occurrence (FO) of introduced species in wild dog diets based on 27,711 scat and 1,522 stomach samples. All 40 papers reported evidence of introduced species in their diets, and showed that 24.8% of scats and stomach samples contained introduced species. Introduced animals recorded in the literature were swamp buffalo, camels, goats, hares, house mice, rabbits, sheep, black rats, wild pigs, foxes, cattle, deer and horses. Wild dogs consumed introduced species in relatively small amounts with the exception of the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) which had the highest FO of 12.1%. The FO of livestock in wild canid diets was low, sheep and cattle being 0.26% and 4.93%, respectively. The direct consumption of human-provided food was recorded in just three papers, totaling 1.80% FO of the total wild dog diet. Dietary preferences of dingoes represent those of a generalist predator and over 200 distinct dietary items were detected. Wild canids appear to rely heavily on introduced species, but direct use of human-sourced food was rare and localized. Limitations of dietary analyses in Australia are discussed, including some general and country-specific problems that may be biasing the results.