ABSTRACT

The impact of hybridisation between dingoes and domestic dogs, and the subsequent introgression of domestic dog genes into dingo populations, remains a topic of significant impact. It has been claimed, but with little evidence or logical argumentation, that dingoes with significant dog introgression have different effects on agriculture and ecosystems than dingoes with no dog introgression. Introgression is a natural process in evolution, occurring in many species, although this is sometimes human assisted. Canid species in particular show high levels of introgression, due to their genetic and phylogenetic similarities, and human persecution creates scenarios encouraging hybridisation. Dingoes are no exception and demonstrate high levels of introgression of domestic dog genes, particularly in the temperate areas of south-eastern Australia. The available evidence shows that this introgression has minimal effects on the functional morphology of the dingo skull. There is also some preliminary evidence that introgression has not had a major impact on dingo reproductive biology. Studies on the impacts of dingoes on arid, tropical and temperate ecosystems, where levels of introgression vary greatly, all show consistent positive impacts of dingoes, regardless of the amount of domestic dog genes within the dingo population, on these ecosystems. Hence, hybridisation and resultant introgression from domestic dog genes appear to have little effect on aspects of the functional morphology or ecological role of the dingo. Accordingly, introgression does not diminish the conservation status of the dingo.

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