Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Canids potentially threaten bilbies at Astrebla Downs National Park.

Abstract

The ecological role of canids in arid Australia is unresolved. Some argue they play a role regulating populations of herbivores and introduced mesopredators such as feral cats (Felis catus) and foxes (Vulpes vulpes). However, evidence also suggests they pose a threat to native species populations. The aims of this study were to determine the extent of canid predation on the bilby population at Astrebla Downs National Park, Queensland, to improve our understanding of the ecological role that canids serve in the park and to determine whether seasonal changes in the canid diet can be used to predict if and when management should intervene. Canid scats (n = 723) were collected over seven years and their content examined. The percentage of bilby remains in the canid scats varied from 13 to 85% (mean = 43%) and was 20-100% by volume. In total, 23 vertebrate species were identified in canid scats. The percentage of cat remains was 0-44% (mean = 11%), peaking in 2013 during a cat plague and coinciding with canids actively hunting cats. Fox remains were not detected in dog scats. These results indicate that canids had a varied diet and at times threatened the bilby population at Astrebla.