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

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Gentle, M. N., 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: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2019.103591

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


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
Live Archive:04 Feb 2020 06:18
Last Modified:28 Jul 2022 01:29

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