Feral Animals in the Semi-arid and Arid Regions of Australia: Origins, Impacts and Control

  • Neil D. Burrows


For millions of years, Australia’s terrestrial fauna and flora, driven by climatic oscillations and geomorphological processes, co-evolved in isolation. The result was a rich diversity of unusual wildlife, high levels of endemism and, prior to the arrival of humans, a pristine wilderness existing in a dynamic equilibrium. Following the arrival of Aborigines some 40–60 ka, Australia ceased to exist as a wilderness. Largely through hunting and burning the vegetation, Aborigines changed the structure and composition of the biota (Roberts et al. 1995; Bowman 1998; Flannery 2002; Gammage 2011; Jurskis 2014). This was further exacerbated by the introduction of the first feral animal to the Australian continent, the dingo (Canis lupus dingo), some 3500–4000 years ago from neighbouring Indonesia or New Guinea (Gollan 1984; Clarkson et al. 2015). The dingo established across the entire mainland, including the arid zone, and asserted itself as a top-order predator (Glen and Dickman 2005; Moseby et al. 2012). It is thought to have caused the extinction of at least three vertebrates on the mainland: the thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and the Tasmanian native hen (Gallinula mortierii) (Corbett 1995; Johnson and Wroe 2003).



I thank John Dunn GIS Branch Department of Parks and Wildlife for preparing distribution maps based on those of Van Dyk and Strahan (2008).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and AttractionsKensingtonAustralia

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