ABSTRACT

We used two survey methods - citizen science for private land and cameras for protected areas - to map the distribution of dingoes/wild dogs and foxes in NSW. Dingo/wild dog records were mostly confined to the east coast and ranges, with scattered locations in western NSW. This contrasts to the distribution of foxes, in which occupancy was high across most of the state. Data from 200 WildCount camera sites within protected areas also showed marked differences in the distribution of the two canid species. At the scale of the state, dingoes/wild dogs are uncommon, with the greatest concentration being in the north-east of the state, as well as a marked presence in the south-east. Foxes are common and widespread within protected areas, but less common in the north-east of the state. The camera data also indicated that feral cats are widespread within protected areas. The second aim of our study was to examine the WildCount data for behavioural patterns of the canid species. Foxes and dingoes/wild dogs significantly separated within two sub-formations of dry sclerophyll forest based on the Keith (2004) classification of NSW vegetation. From species pairwise interactions at sites, we found only limited evidence for significant interactions, and then only for the co-occurrence of fox-rabbit and fox-swamp wallaby, but no avoidance for any of the predators with each other. Camera records of the time of day of being active showed little effect of the presence of dingoes/wild dogs on the times of activity of foxes, but foxes curtailed the activity times of dingoes/wild dogs. From the analysis of inter-animal times at sites where both canids were recorded, there was little difference between the time since the other species was present. Thus, there was no evidence that dingoes/wild dogs or foxes inhibit the other from being at a site. We concluded that at the landscape level, both vegetation type and land tenure play a role in the interactions between dingoes/wild dogs and foxes. We also concluded that citizen science and cameras are complementary, not alternative techniques, especially as they sample different land tenures, and that cameras in protected areas and occupancy from citizen science have produced higher resolution maps and behaviour patterns than have been previously available. We can confirm that foxes are a ubiquitous threat throughout NSW, whereas dingoes/wild dogs are concentrated into a much smaller area of eastern, particularly north-eastern, NSW.

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