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Livestock guardian dogs as surrogate top predators? How Maremma sheepdogs affect a wildlife community


van Bommel, L and Johnson, CN, Livestock guardian dogs as surrogate top predators? How Maremma sheepdogs affect a wildlife community, Ecology and Evolution, 6, (18) pp. 6702-6711. ISSN 2045-7758 (2016) [Refereed Article]



Copyright Statement

2016 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1002/ece3.2412


Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.Use of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) to reduce predation on livestock is increasing. However, how these dogs influence the activity of wildlife, including predators, is not well understood. We used pellet counts and remote cameras to investigate the effects of free ranging LGDs on four large herbivores (eastern gray kangaroo, common wombat, swamp wallaby, and sambar deer) and one mesopredator (red fox) in Victoria, Australia. Generalized mixed models and one- and two-species detection models were used to assess the influence of the presence of LGDs on detection of the other species. We found avoidance of LGDs in four species. Swamp wallabies and sambar deer were excluded from areas occupied by LGDs; gray kangaroos showed strong spatial and temporal avoidance of LGD areas; foxes showed moderately strong spatial and temporal avoidance of LGD areas. The effect of LGDs on wombats was unclear. Avoidance of areas with LGDs by large herbivores can benefit livestock production by reducing competition for pasture and disease transmission from wildlife to livestock, and providing managers with better control over grazing pressure. Suppression of mesopredators could benefit the small prey of those species.

Synthesis and applications: In pastoral areas, LGDs can function as a surrogate top-order predator, controlling the local distribution and affecting behavior of large herbivores and mesopredators. LGDs may provide similar ecological functions to those that in many areas have been lost with the extirpation of native large carnivores.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:detection probability, large herbivore, LGD, LPD, mesopredator, top predator, trophic cascade, livestock protection
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Environmental management
Research Field:Wildlife and habitat management
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:van Bommel, L (Dr Linda van Bommel)
UTAS Author:Johnson, CN (Professor Christopher Johnson)
ID Code:112323
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:19
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-11-03
Last Modified:2017-12-12
Downloads:271 View Download Statistics

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