Benjamin Allen & Kylie Cairns
Scope and objectives:
The overall goal of the Dingo Working Group is to promote the study and conservation of dingoes1 in Australia and New Guinea, including a deeper understanding of their ecological and socio-cultural value, genetic relationships between sub-populations, and appropriate strategies to balance their conservation with other management objectives within their range.
The Dingo Working Group aims to foster transdisciplinary collaborations that will contribute to the formulation of priority research, conservation, management and policy actions at appropriate scales. The Group also aims to disseminate relevant information on dingoes to policy makers, wildlife managers, the scientific community, and the general public.
1Dingoes in this context include Australian dingoes and closely related wild canids from New Guinea and possibly other nearby regions as well.
Dingo Working Group facts sheet and statements:
Position statement: Why Conserve The Australian Dingo
It is the opinion of the IUCN Canid Specialist Group (CSG) that dingoes/NGSD are an evolutionarily significant unit of wild canid closely related to domestic dogs. The IUCN CSG’s current preferred binomial for dingoes/NGSD is Canis familiaris however we acknowledge that there is continuing scientific debate about the taxonomic nomenclature of dingoes/NGSD. Whilst dingoes/NGSD are dogs it is not clear if, or to what extent, domestication affected their formation. In this context it is not appropriate to refer to dingoes/NGSD as a breed or feral, they are wild canids. The IUCN CSG expects that ongoing scientific research will resolve uncertainty about the status of dingoes/NGSD.
Priority issues affecting dingoes:
1. Information on the wild canids of Papua New Guinea and south-east Asia, and their genetic relationships with Australian dingoes.
Dingoes are the most ancient form of dog, having expanded their range from Asia through the islands of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea to Australia several thousand years ago. Complex genetic relationships between ancient and modern canids in these regions over this time affect the perceived status and conservation value of dingoes. A greater understanding of these relationships will assist their conservation and management across their extended range.
2. Information on geographic boundaries of any evolutionarily significant dingo populations and identification of regional hotspots where the dingo populations have limited domestic dog introgression.
Ongoing genetic mixing between dingoes and modern dogs – often referred to as hybridisation – threatens the loss of valuable genetic diversity within dingoes. Australian dingoes are often thought of as having a single genetic identity, but modern genetic data indicates this is not the case. Identifying regions of with distinct evolutionary lineages can assist with determining management actions that have the capacity to preserve these populations against factors that may threaten them. It is also important to identify local dingo populations which have limited (or zero) domestic dog ancestry.
3. Information on effects of dingo management on dispersal and hybridisation.
Dingoes are present across ~85% of the Australian continent and can cause substantial damage to livestock, which leads to broad scale lethal control of dingoes in many areas. Dingo control may increase intraspecific interactions and act as a catalyst for the loss of valuable genetic diversity. These issues remain poorly understood, but they are important to help understand the effects of common dingo management practices on dingo conservation values.
4. Information on non-numerical effects of dingo management on populations of dingoes and other fauna.
Dingo abundance and distribution is typically resilient to most contemporary forms of dingo control over time, but there remains some uncertainty about the effects of dingo control on their ecological function, population genetics and the potential cascading effects this may have for other fauna and flora. More information on these processes may assist with developing dingo management strategies with the potential to conserve their ecological values.
5. Broadening the knowledge base about available dingo management tools, encouraging the use of non-lethal tools where appropriate.
A wide variety of potential tools exist to manage the risks dingoes pose to livestock and threatened fauna, but managers have typically relied on just a small number of these tools, including poisoning, trapping, shooting, and exclusion fencing. Adoption of the many other available tools is hampered by a lack of reliable information on their effectiveness. With increasing public pressure to prioritise non-lethal control of dingoes, obtaining a greater understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of non-lethal tools may assist with the adoption of these tools in appropriate places.
Dingoes are one of the most studied animals in Australia, and wide variety of resources are available on dingo biology, ecology, conservation and management – too many to list here. Some of these resources are available by clicking on the links associated with each Dingo Working Group member (above), or by reading the following books:
Benjamin Allen – University of Southern Queensland, Australia (Co-chair) - firstname.lastname@example.org
Guy Ballard – New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Australia
Linda Behrendorff – Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Australia
Kylie Cairns – University of New South Wales, Australia (Co-chair) – email@example.com
Jan Koler-Matznick – New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society, USA
Rose Singadan – University of Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea
Bradley Smith – Central Queensland University, Australia