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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2023

Negative frequency dependent prey selection by two canid predators and its implications for the conservation of a threatened rodent in arid Australia

Sheldon, Elizabeth L.; Feit, Benjamin; Feit, Anna; Letnic, Mike


Unprecedented anthropogenic changes to biodiversity and biogeography demand a greater understanding of the consequences of altered faunal composition for ecosystem functioning. Selective predation has important, yet poorly understood effects on ecosystem stability, and can be strongly influenced by the relative frequencies of different prey types in the environment. Yet, how predators adjust their selection for prey according to their environmental frequency is often overlooked. Here, we assessed frequency dependent selection of prey by dingoes and foxes in the Australian desert, biannually, across a nine-year period (2007-2016). Both predators exhibited potentially destabilizing, negative frequency dependent selection for prey. Foxes persisted to preferentially consume a threatened, native rodent (Notomys fuscus) when it was environmentally scarce. Bolstered by the observation that N.fuscus occurs at low densities in areas where foxes are common, our results suggest that N.fuscus is particularly vulnerable to predation by this predator; possibly because it is naive and/or lacks adaptations to avoid or escape predation by the relatively recently introduced fox. Dingoes tended to consume reptiles when they were scarce; potentially constituting a conservation concern if selected reptilian taxa are threatened. Foxes avoided, thus were unlikely to control populations of overabundant kangaroos, while both foxes and dingoes showed a preference for, and may therefore control populations of invasive rabbits. The integration of our results into the relative suites of (de)stabilizing influences exerted by dingoes and foxes is important to provide a more dynamic insight into how each predator impacts their naturally fluctuating ecosystems.


Predator prey dynamics; Canids; Canis dingo; Vulpes vulpes; Foraging behaviour

Publicerad i

Biodiversity and Conservation
2023, Volym: 32, nummer: 5, sidor: 1671-1686
Utgivare: SPRINGER

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    SDG15 Life on land

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