A scoping review of dingo and wild-living dog ecology and biology in Australia to inform parameterisation for disease spread modelling

Vanessa Gabriele-Rivet, Julie Arsenault, Barbara Wilhelm, Victoria Brookes, Thomas M. Newsome, Michael Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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Dingoes and wild-living dogs in Australia, which include feral domestic dogs and dingo-dog hybrids, play a role as reservoirs of disease. In the case of an exotic disease incursion—such as rabies—these reservoirs could be a threat to the health of humans, domestic animals and other wildlife in Australia. Disease spread models are needed to explore this impact and develop mitigation strategies for responding to an incursion. Our study aim was to describe relevant information from the literature, using a scoping review, on specific topics related to dingo and wild-living dog ecology and biology (topics of interest) in Australia to inform parameterisation of disease spread modelling and identify major research gaps.

Methods: A broad electronic search was conducted in five bibliographic databases and grey literature. Two levels of screening and two levels of data extraction were each performed independently by two reviewers. Data extracted included topics of interest investigated, type of population sampled, the presence of lethal control, type of environment, years of collection and GPS coordinates of study sites.

Results: From 1666 records captured, the screening process yielded 229 individual studies published between 1862 and 2016. The most frequently reported topics of interest in studies were index of abundance (n = 93) and diet (n = 68). Among the three key parameters in disease spread modelling (i.e., density, contacts and home range), data on density and contacts were identified as major research gaps in the literature due to the small number of recent studies on these topics and the scarcity of quantitative estimates. The research reviewed was mostly located around central Australia and the east coast, including a few studies on density, contacts and home range. Data from these regions could potentially be used to inform parameterisation for disease spread modelling of dingoes and wild-living dogs. However, the number of studies is limited in equatorial and tropical climate zones of northern Australia, which is a high-risk area for a rabies incursion.

Conclusions: Research in northern regions of Australia, especially to generate data regarding density, contacts and home ranges, should be prioritised for future research on dingoes and wild-living dogs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication statusPublished - 05 Mar 2019


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