Monday, 19 September 2016

Historical coexistence with dingoes may explain bandicoot avoidance of domestic dogs




Bandicoots avoid domestic dogs in areas with 4,000 years of dingo coexistence; do not avoid dogs where there are no dingoes

Date: September 7, 2016
Source: PLOS

Domestic dogs and cats were introduced to Tasmania two centuries ago, but bandicoots still fail to recognize these introduced predators as threats, according a study published September 7, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Anke Frank from University of Tasmania, Australia, and colleagues.

Worldwide, introduced predators have caused declines and extinctions of native wildlife, presumably in part because native species do not see novel predators as threats and thus fail to flee or defend themselves. But this naiveté is not necessarily forever: bandicoots in Sydney avoid backyards with domestic dogs. Interestingly, however, Sydney bandicoots do not avoid domestic cats even though they, like domestic dogs, were introduced about 200 years ago. This varying behavior to introduced predators has been attributed to the fact that dingoes arrived in mainland Australia 4000 years ago, predisposing Sydney bandicoots to avoid domestic dogs.

To test this hypothesis, Frank and colleagues assessed bandicoot behavior in Tasmania, where domestic dogs have been present for 200 years but where dingoes have never been present. The researchers surveyed 548 people in Hobart, Tasmania -- 37% of whom owned at least one dog and 20% of whom owned at least one cat -- about bandicoot sightings and scats in their backyards.

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