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Land use and dingo baiting are correlated with the density of kangaroos in rangeland systems

Dawson, S.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-4432-3779, Kreplins, T.L., Kennedy, M.S., Renwick, J., Cowan, M.A. and Fleming, P.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0626-3851 (2022) Land use and dingo baiting are correlated with the density of kangaroos in rangeland systems. Integrative Zoology . Early View.

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Rangelands worldwide have been subject to broadscale modification, such as widespread predator control, introduction of permanent livestock water and altered vegetation to improve grazing. In Australia, these landscape changes have resulted in kangaroos (i.e. large macropods) populations increasing over the past 200 years. Kangaroos are a key contributor to total grazing pressure and in conjunction with livestock and feral herbivores have been linked to land degradation. We used 22 years of aerial survey data to investigate whether the density of 3 macropod species in the southern rangelands of Western Australia was associated with: (i) land use, including type of livestock, total livestock, density of feral goats, type of land tenure, and kangaroo commercial harvest effort; (ii) predator management, including permitted dingo control effort, estimated dingo abundance, and presence of the State Barrier Fence (a dingo exclusion fence); and (iii) environmental variables: ruggedness, rainfall, fractional cover, and total standing dry matter. Red kangaroos (Osphranter rufus) were most abundant in flat, open vegetation, on pastoral land, where area permitted for dingo control was high, and numbers were positively associated with antecedent rainfall with a 12-month delay. Western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) were most abundant on flat, agricultural land, but less abundant in areas with high permitted dingo control. Euros (Osphranter robustus) were most abundant in rugged pastoral land with open vegetation, where permitted dingo control was high. While environmental variables are key drivers of landscape productivity and kangaroo populations, anthropogenic factors such as land use and permitted dingo control are strongly associated with kangaroo abundance.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Terrestrial Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
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