April 18 2016

12:00 LSB 2320

Michael Letnic
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales

Keystone effects of Australia's top predator Keystone effects of Australias top predator


Top predators often have positive effects on biological diversity owing to their key functional roles in regulating trophic cascades and other ecological processes. Their loss has been identified as a major factor contributing to the decline of biodiversity in both aquatic and terrestrial systems. Consequently, restoring and maintaining the ecological function of top-order predators is a critical global imperative. The dingo is Australias largest terrestrial predator. Their status is ambiguous owing to their relatively recent arrival on the continent, the damage they cause to livestock and their role as ecosystem architects. In this talk I will discuss the status and ecological role of dingoes, focusing particularly, on the strong regulatory effects they have on Australian ecosystems. A large body of research now indicates that dingoes regulate ecological cascades, particularly in arid Australia, and that the removal of dingoes results in an increase in the abundances and impacts of herbivores and an invasive mesopredator, the red fox. The loss of dingoes has been linked to widespread losses of small and medium-sized native mammals and the depletion of plant biomass due to the effects of irrupting herbivore populations and increased predation rates by red foxes.

Biography: Mike Letnic is an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. Mike’s research interests include landscape ecology, the ecology and function of arid ecosystems, the impacts of invasive species and the management and ecology of crocodiles.















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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