Plant Biology

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Contact

Michael Wysong

Phone: (+61 4) 9810 2313
Fax: (+61 8) 6488 7461


Supervisors

Start date

Mar 2012

Submission date

Mar 2016

Michael Wysong

Michael Wysong profile photo

Thesis

The ecology of dingoes and feral cats in an arid landscape: examining resource use, habitat selection, and diet of two sympatric carnivores

Summary

My research uses remote camera traps to develop methods for detecting feral cats and dingoes so that their occurrence and spatial distribution can be effectively measured. Camera traps not only allow us to understand the nature of the interaction between these two predators but can also help us to understand the interaction between dingoes and their main prey species – large macropods such as the red kangaroo and the wallaroo. We also use GPS data from individually collared dingoes and feral cats to track their movements and understand how they select for particular resources or habitats. Finally, we analyse prey contents from the scats of dingoes and feral cats to understand the extent of dietary overlap and competition between these two species. Understanding what drives the spatial distribution and resource use of both dingoes and feral cats gives landowners and natural resource practitioners valuable information to help manage these species.

Why my research is important

Feral cats have been implicated in the extinction of at least 16 mammals since their arrival in Australia approximately 200 years ago and have been listed as the key threatening process for dozens more currently at-risk mammal, bird, and reptile species. An increasing debate surrounds the merits of using dingoes to conserve threatened native fauna by exploiting their role as apex predators to competitively exclude sympatric meso-predators such as feral cats. Before landowners and managers can be convinced to support the use of dingoes to combat the threat posed by feral cats, we need the insights from research based on sound scientific methods and analysis to effectively understand the role that dingoes play in their environment. My research will provide key information on dingo ecology and their interaction with feral cats to help resolve this dingo debate.

Funding

  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarship
  • Australian Postgraduate Award
  • Department of Parks and Wildlife
  • Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions
  • UWA Safety net top-up scholarship