Top predators as biodiversity regulators : the dingo Canis lupus dingo as a case study

Letnic, Mike, Ritchie, Euan G. and Dickman, Christopher R. 2012, Top predators as biodiversity regulators : the dingo Canis lupus dingo as a case study, Biological reviews, vol. 87, no. 2, pp. 390-413.

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Title Top predators as biodiversity regulators : the dingo Canis lupus dingo as a case study
Author(s) Letnic, Mike
Ritchie, Euan G.ORCID iD for Ritchie, Euan G.
Dickman, Christopher R.
Journal name Biological reviews
Volume number 87
Issue number 2
Start page 390
End page 413
Total pages 24
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Place of publication Oxford, England
Publication date 2012
ISSN 1464-7931
Keyword(s) biodiversity
canis lupus dingo
intra-guild predation
trophic cascade
top predator
red fox
vulpes vulpes
Summary Top-order predators often have positive effects on biological diversity owing to their key functional roles in regulating trophic cascades and other ecological processes. Their loss has been identified as a major factor contributing to the decline of biodiversity in both aquatic and terrestrial systems. Consequently, restoring and maintaining the ecological function of top predators is a critical global imperative. Here we review studies of the ecological effects of the dingo Canis lupus dingo, Australia's largest land predator, using this as a case study to explore the influence of a top predator on biodiversity at a continental scale. The dingo was introduced to Australia by people at least 3500 years ago and has an ambiguous status owing to its brief history on the continent, its adverse impacts on livestock production and its role as an ecosystem architect. A large body of research now indicates that dingoes regulate ecological cascades, particularly in arid Australia, and that the removal of dingoes results in an increase in the abundances and impacts of herbivores and invasive mesopredators, most notably the red fox Vulpes vulpes. The loss of dingoes has been linked to widespread losses of small and medium-sized native mammals, the depletion of plant biomass due to the effects of irrupting herbivore populations and increased predation rates by red foxes. We outline a suite of conceptual models to describe the effects of dingoes on vertebrate populations across different Australian environments. Finally, we discuss key issues that require consideration or warrant research before the ecological effects of dingoes can be incorporated formally into biodiversity conservation programs.
Notes Published online 2nd November 2011 as Early View article
Language eng
Field of Research 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Socio Economic Objective 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2011 The Authors, Biological Reviews, Cambridge Philosophical Society
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