ABSTRACT

Taxonomy plays an important role in defining biodiversity and shaping conservation efforts. However, the biological species concept is a human construct and organisms that do not abide by the rules do not fit easily into conservation and policy frameworks. Organisms that are hybrids are one such example. Indeed, hybridisation can result in both the protection and persecution of wild organisms, especially if the hybrid status is uncertain. Here, we outline the issue of hybridisation between dingoes and dogs in Australia, revealing the multidimensional problems that arise when defining and addressing the issue. Before we can decide if and how we should manage hybridisation, we must define the issue and our management goals. For the dingo (and other hybridising species), any resolution of the hybridisation dilemma must consider not only genetics, but also biology, ecology, social values, and ethics. In order to progress dingo management in Australia, we provide a new framework that aims to assist rather than jeopardise dingo conservation.

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