Oral presentation- Open Session 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Dingoes and trophic cascades in Australia - a red herring for ecological restoration (#305)

Helen R Morgan 1 , John T Hunter 1 , Guy A Ballard 1 , Nick C H Reid 1 , Peter J S Fleming 1
  1. University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

Wolves have been widely documented as being influential in top down regulation of prey and trophic cascades in North America. Reintroduction plans for the dingo in south east Australia are currently proposed with emphasis on the positive effects of canid driven trophic cascades on biodiversity.  The biophysical elements of North America shape that environment for trophic cascades but it is not clear that Australia provides a comparative context for the dingo.

The wolf-elk-willow trophic cascade in Yellowstone National Park provides a case study to understand the broader system controls on trophic interactions and comparatively apply the knowledge to the south east Australian environment. Both ecosystems have a canid top predator and an arid environment, making their comparison highly relevant for dingo reintroduction plans in Australia. Climate stability has emerged as the critical influence underlying trophic cascades in Yellowstone National Park through the regularity of predictable resource supply which sustains strong trophic interactions. Conversely, the instability of the Australian climate which yields unpredictable resources is unlikely to produce trophic interactions of similar strength. Consequently, predator reintroduction experiments based on the conceptual framework of dingoes driving trophic cascades are likely to be constrained.