Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Little evidence of top-predators biocontrol on invasive mesopredators

Allen, B. L., Allen, L. R., & Leung, L. K. P. 2014. Interactions between two naturalised invasive predators in Australia: are feral cats suppressed by dingoes?.Biological Invasions, 1-16.

Top-predators can play important roles in terrestrial food webs, fuelling speculation that top-predators might be used as biocontrol tools against invasive mesopredators. Feral cats are believed to be largely responsible for the current declines of native fauna across tropical northern Australia, where substantial beef cattle production occurs. Dingoes are known to impact cattle production there and are predicted to impact native fauna also. However, dingoes are forecasted to curtail the impacts of cats and reverse native fauna declines. We review (1) empirical studies investigating the relationships between dingoes and cats, and dingo control and cats, (2) records of cat remains in dingo diets, and (3) historical records of lethal dingo control using 1080-poisoned baits across Australia between 1999 and 2008 to show how two naturalised invasive species can interact in dynamic agro-ecological landscapes. From the 35 studies assessed, most reported no detectable relationship between dingoes and cats; negative or positive relationships were seldom detected. Dingoes do not appear to exclude cats beyond fine scales, but may alter cat activity periods under certain conditions. Cat remains were found in only 0.63 % of over 31,000 dingo diet records. Lethal dingo control occurs (in varying degrees) across about two-thirds of Australia and does not appear to substantially influence dingo-cat relationships. We conclude that the presently available data provides little evidence that bolstering dingo populations will reduce the impacts of cats. Much more work is needed to identify situations where top-predators might be used as effective biocontrol tools against invasive mesopredators in agro-ecological systems.

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