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Genetic sampling identifies canid predators of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in peri-urban areas

Gentle, M., Allen, B. L., Oakey, J., Speed, J., Harriott, L., Loader, J., Robbins, A., de Villiers, D. and Hanger, J. (2019) Genetic sampling identifies canid predators of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in peri-urban areas. Landscape and Urban Planning, 190 . p. 103591. ISSN 0169-2046

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Article Link(s): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2019.103591

Publisher URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204618306650

Abstract

An understanding of the threats to threatened species in urban and peri-urban areas is essential to develop successful management approaches. Dog attacks are considered to be a major contributor to koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) mortalities in peri-urban areas of north-eastern Australia. Predation could be due to either domestic dogs or wild dogs (dingoes and dingo-domestic dog hybrids), gentically-identifiable groups of Canis familiaris. Here, we aimed to use genetic sampling methods to determine or verify the identity, number and successful removal of canid predators of koalas in a peri-urban environment in south-eastern Queensland. Genetic samples were taken from the remains of 12 koalas suspected to have died from predation. Canine genotypes were present on 11 of 12 predated koalas (∼92%) and were from wild dogs, not domestic dogs. Most koalas had only one canine genotype identified, suggesting they were killed by a single dog. Our results show that DNA samples collected from deceased prey species can be used to identify the predator, and distinguish between closely-related species, and hybrids of the two. Genetic methods confirmed the identification of the predator obtained through conventional necropsy and support growing evidence that wild dog predation is a significant cause of koala mortality in this region. Strategies to reduce predation on koalas should therefore focus on reducing the impact of free-ranging wild dog populations. This approach is important to identify and target those canids responsible for predation of threatened prey populations, particularly where multiple predators are present and/or predator removals may be controversial.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Keywords:Dingo Wild dog Urban wildlife Microsatellite DNA
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Animal control and ecology
Science > Invasive Species > Animals > Impact assessment
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Animal culture > Small animal culture
Deposited On:04 Feb 2020 06:18
Last Modified:04 Feb 2020 06:18

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