Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Dingoes and Devils the answer for Australia?



A new paper to be published in the May edition of Trends in Ecology and Evolution suggests dingoes and Tasmanian devils could control invasive species, such as cats and foxes, as well as overabundant herbivores.

"We need to be quite bold and allow predators back into the landscape and see if they can reverse some of the damage we've done," said Dr Euan Ritchie, ecologist at Deakin University in Melbourne and lead author of the paper.


The abstract of the paper reads:

"Recent advances highlight the potential for predators to restore ecosystems and confer resilience against globally threatening processes, including climate change and biological invasions. However, releasing the ecological benefits of predators entails significant challenges. Here, we discuss the economic, environmental and social considerations affecting predator-driven ecological restoration programmes, and suggest approaches for reducing the undesirable impacts of predators. Because the roles of predators are context dependent, we argue for increased emphasis on predator functionality in ecosystems and less on the identities and origins of species and genotypes. We emphasise that insufficient attention is currently given to the importance of variation in the social structures and behaviours of predators in influencing the dynamics of trophic interactions. Lastly, we outline experiments specifically designed to clarify the ecological roles of predators and their potential utility in ecosystem restoration."

Read more here.

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