, Volume 144, Issue 5, pp 553–565

New insights on the history of canids in Oceania based on mitochondrial and nuclear data


DOI: 10.1007/s10709-016-9924-z

Cite this article as:
Cairns, K.M. & Wilton, A.N. Genetica (2016) 144: 553. doi:10.1007/s10709-016-9924-z


How and when dingoes arrived in Oceania poses a fascinating question for scientists with interest in the historical movements of humans and dogs. The dingo holds a unique position as top terrestrial predator of Australia and exists in a wild state. In the first geographical survey of genetic diversity in the dingo using whole mitochondrial genomes, we analysed 16,428 bp in 25 individuals from five separate populations. We also investigated 13 nuclear loci to compare with the mitochondrial population history patterns. Phylogenetic analyses based upon mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA support the hypothesis that there are at least two distinct populations of dingo, one of which occurs in the northwest and the other in the southeast of the continent. Conservative molecular dating based upon mitochondrial DNA suggest that the lineages split approximately 8300 years before present, likely outside Australia but within Oceania. The close relationship between dingoes and New Guinea Singing Dogs suggests that plausibly dingoes spread into Australia via the land bridge between Papua New Guinea and Australia although seafaring introductions cannot be rejected. The geographical distribution of these divergent lineages suggests there were multiple independent dingo immigrations. Importantly, the observation of multiple dingo populations suggests the need for revision of existing conservation and management programs that treat dingoes as a single homogeneous population.


Australia Dingo Divergence estimates Mitochondrial DNA Neolithic Nuclear DNA Phylogeography Population genetics 

Supplementary material

10709_2016_9924_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (149 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 148 kb)
10709_2016_9924_MOESM2_ESM.docx (81 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 80 kb)
10709_2016_9924_MOESM3_ESM.xlsx (45 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (XLSX 44 kb)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
The Hermon Slade Foundation
  • HSF11/6

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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