Dingo - Fox - Ground Bird Relationship

To: 'Kurtis Lindsay' <>, "" <>
Subject: Dingo - Fox - Ground Bird Relationship
From: Peter Shute <>
Date: Wed, 18 May 2016 00:49:04 +0000
Does this mean money being spent on cat eradication might be better spent on 
fox eradication? Or is there much more to it than that?

Peter Shute

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Birding-Aus  On Behalf
> Of Kurtis Lindsay
> Sent: Tuesday, 17 May 2016 11:05 PM
> To: 
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Dingo - Fox - Ground Bird Relationship
> Hi all,
> I have been following this fox - night parrot discussion closely as it is
> something I am very interested in.
> From 2011 I worked as an Ecologist consultant in the Brigalow Belt and North-
> West Highlands of Queensland for a few years.
> During this time I surveyed dozens of large cattle stations from the NSW QLD
> border to north of Mt Isa and east to Ingham.
> Surveys always including the setting of camera traps.
> When I set camera traps I recorded Dingoes and feral cats on every property
> I surveyed. But I never once recorded Foxes.
> Interestingly, on every property, I regularly recorded Bush Stone Curlew,
> Bustard, high abundance of Quail species, and Squatter Pigeon (or Spinifex
> Pigeon in Mt Isa) as well as small macropods like Rufous Bettong, Spectacled
> Hare Wallaby, Northern Nailtail Wallaby, and Northern Brown Bandicoot.
> Habitat availability was only part of the picture as most sites I surveyed 
> were
> heavily cleared cattle stations with only small, often degraded remnants.
> There was never the amount of remnant woodland that you find in the NSW
> rangelands.
> Cross the border into NSW where I later worked (still in the Southern
> Brigalow Belt bioregion!) and all of the above native birds and mamals I 
> listed
> that were once in NSW are now functionally extinct (as of ~100 years)! The
> list of once common species now endangered (or extinct) in northern and
> central NSW includes Bustard, Bush Stone Curlew, Squatter Pigeon, Rufous
> Bettong and more. Whats more, I found foxes in high abundance on every
> property I surveyed in this area.
> Why did I get so many "Critical Weight Range Mammals" and "Ground
> Nesting Birds" in QLD and none in NSW?  My only hypothesis is owing to the
> lack of foxes in QLD. Why the lack of foxes? I put it down to the serious
> dingo/wild dog "infestation" or dare I say "benefit" in QLD.
> Studies have shown that dingoes/wild dogs suppress fox abundance where
> fox and dog/dingo co-occur. At present there is a lack of correlative studies
> that show the tripartisan relationship between these two predators and their
> prey items, particularly the predation sensitive ground bird and CRW
> mammal species I listed above.
> All the dingo/dog scats I collected during my time in QLD were sent to
> Barbara Triggs and the contents were overwhelmingly dominated by
> Macropus sp. fur.
> In contrast, foxes are known to eat far more small mammal, bird and insect
> prey.
> Cats are a serious problem, and habitat destruction is obviously the most
> serious issue biodiversity faces in NSW at present, but foxes are the main
> reason why we have lost so many medium sized mammals and ground
> nesting birds from NSW and Victoria.
> Across Northern Sydney in the early 2000s, all of the councils and National
> Parks banded together and conducted the largest ever targeted fox baiting
> program in Sydney. Over the next 10 years, we saw a sudden resurgence in
> "fox prey" species such as the Long-nosed Bandicoot, Swamp Wallaby and
> Brush Turkey (which had been extirpated from Sydney for well over 50
> years). Foxes became rare. They were successfully controlled enough to
> allow recolonisation and survival of their native prey.
> Fauna species, particularly birds, will always find a way to disperse and 
> return
> to available habitat when the one thing preventing them is removed (In this
> case, foxes).
> If adequate funding was allocated toward an active fox eradication program
> (or more politcally sensititve, if dingoes/wild dogs were allowed to live)
> across central, northern and eastern NSW. We would see a rapid increase in
> many if not all of the species I listed above, especially the nomadic ground
> birds like Bustards, Bush Stone Curlew and Squatter Pigeon.
> Such birds would soon colonise NSW from north of the border and spread
> south, eventually back to their former distribution.
> If we did the same and controlled foxes across the Western Division of NSW
> we may also see an increase in arid specialists like Grasswrens, Night Parrot
> and the like.
> Likewise, further east we would see a population increase in Ground Parrot
> and Eastern  Bristlebirds.
> Remove foxes from most of New South Wales and we will 1. prevent
> extinctions and 2. experience the luxury of iconic bird species returning to
> their former place in our landscape.
> Regards,
> Kurtis J. Lindsay Bsc (Hons)
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