By Joern Fischer
The dingo in Australia is much the same thing biologically as the wolf in Europe — in fact, the two might be just different sub-species, not even different species. There’s a very nice story published today on this over at “The Conversation”, an Australian website.
Dingoes are quite controversial in Australia, as are wolves in Europe. The instill fear in people, who worry about their sheep, children, and general safety. An added problem in Australia is that the dingo is not a proper “native animal” — it was introduced, probably with Aboriginal people, a mere few thousand years ago.
Now the important bit: dingoes interact in food webs in complex ways, and they help to suppress populations of other so-called “meso-predators”. Some of those meso-predators in Australia are introduced, and major ecological problems in their own right, like the cat and fox. So, dingoes could be quite important ecologically.
This all does make me wonder about the role of wolves in the countries I now engage with most … Central Romania has lots of wolves, some shepherds report that they see them every week. Germany has a few wolves coming back now, as far as the west end of the country (they come from the eastern parts originally). What might be the effects of wolves on meso-predators in Europe? What are the differences in food webs, with and without wolves in Europe? — Frankly, I don’t know, but I’d be interested in comments on this.
Now — go read the dingo article here.