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Does historical coexistence with dingoes explain current avoidance of domestic dogs? Island bandicoots are naive to dogs, unlike their mainland counterparts

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posted on 2023-05-21, 11:16 authored by Anke Frank, Carthey, AJR, Banks, PB

Introduced predators have a global reputation for causing declines and extinctions of native species. Native prey naiveté towards novel predators is thought to be a key reason for predator impacts. However, naiveté is not necessarily forever: where coexistence establishes, it is likely that naiveté will be reduced through adaptation, and the once alien predator will eventually become recognised by prey. For example, native marsupial bandicoots in Sydney avoid backyards with domestic dogs (C. lupus familiaris), but not domestic cats (Felis catus), even though cats and dogs were both introduced about 200 years ago (Carthey and Banks 2012). The authors attributed bandicoots’ recognition of dogs to long-term exposure to a close relative of dogs, dingoes that arrived in Australia 4000 years ago. Here, we test a prediction of this hypothesis by taking the study to Tasmania, where dingoes have never been present but where domestic dogs also arrived about 200 years ago. We use a similar survey design to that of Carthey and Banks (2012): asking Hobart residents to report on pet-ownership, bandicoot sightings and scats within their backyards, as well as an array of yard characteristic control variables. We predicted that if long term experience with dingoes enabled mainland bandicoots to recognise domestic dogs, then Tasmanian bandicoots, which are inexperienced with dingoes, would not recognise domestic dogs. Our results indicate that Tasmanian bandicoots are naïve to both dogs and cats after only 200 years of coexistence, supporting our hypothesis and the notion that naiveté in native prey towards alien predators (as observed on the mainland) may eventually be overcome.


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School of Natural Sciences


Public Library of Science

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United States

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© 2016 Frank et al. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Terrestrial biodiversity

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