Particle physics research

Dingo? Bingo! How you can help find dingoes from home

Credit: Harry Vincent/Taronga Conservation Society Australia

Can you tell your cats from your dingoes? Your wallabies from your wallaroos? Goofy then? Bingo! is your chance to identify dingoes (and other wildlife) in photos and help scientists better understand and manage dingo populations in particular.

A goofy online citizen science project? Bingo! asks for the public’s help in detecting dingoes and other animals among images extracted from a network of camera traps. Cameras have been installed in the Myall Lakes area of ​​NSW, home to a large coastal population of dingoes and a long-term study of dingo ecology and management. The Myall Lakes Dingo Project, supported by the Hermon Slade Foundation and Taronga Conservation Society Australia, aims to develop and test non-lethal management techniques and improve our understanding of dingo behavior and ecology along the way. .

Dingoes are an iconic and valuable part of Australia’s ecosystem, but where dingoes co-exist with humans – whether it’s campsites, towns or ranching areas – they can also cause problems. , and these conflicts are traditionally handled by lethal means. The question is, are there any non-lethal alternatives to deter dingoes from these places?

Researchers from UNSW Science and the Taronga Conservation Society Australia are testing whether dingoes’ own signals can be used to deter them and invasive predators from particular areas. Dingoes use howls and scent marks to communicate ownership of space. So, by simulating their presence in an area, the team hopes to be able to deter them from specific areas.

As Dr. Neil Jordan, Senior Researcher and Senior Lecturer at UNSW, explains, “In some circumstances, living alongside dingoes can be challenging. This project hopes to develop tools and strategies to limit the negative impacts of dingoes in specific areas, while allowing them to play their ecological role as apex predator in the wider landscape.

Part of that ecological role may be the suppression of invasive foxes, and as Taronga behavioral biologist and co-lead researcher Dr Ben Pitcher explains, that’s also an important part of the team’s work. “There is good evidence from a number of studies that animals withdraw from the noise of their predators. As dingoes sometimes kill foxes and cats, we are also testing the idea that these small carnivores can avoid areas where they think dingoes are present, where they hear a dingo howl for example.

To test their idea, the team set up 12 automated speaker systems, playing dingo howls intermittently throughout the night. More than 60 remote-controlled camera traps have also been positioned around these sites along the main circulation axes of the dingoes: trails and roads. And that’s where Goofy? Bingo! Between.

Sifting through 50,000 images is a tall order for any researcher, and so the team decided to share the burden and the joy of participating in this work. Nonetheless, as UNSW Ph.D. student Brendan Alting explains that the team remains active participants themselves: “It’s always great to see an unexpected quoll or koala pop up in an image, and so I Wouldn’t say we’ve been 100% successful in bringing this entirely to citizen science – it’s pretty addictive!

New to Dingo? Bingo!, users are informed of the different groups of animals they might see in the photos (bandicoot, horse, reptiles, etc.), how to submit their identification and, finally, what details they could add. Is it a dingo? Bingo!

To ensure they are ranked accurately, each photo is shown to 20 users, and only if there is a high degree of agreement are they ranked, with the research team reviewing all classifications discussed.

As Dr. Jordan explains, “You’ll probably see a number of images of foxes, cats, and dingoes on the platform, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the experiment didn’t work. To properly test any effect of the howls, we also reproduce control sounds, including ambient noise, and we will compare these treatments using the data provided by “Goofy?” Bingo! »

Goofy’s entire collection? Bingo! the photos are now available and ready for public classification, so feel free to dive right in and help the research team find out how effective their deterrents were.

Pending the success of this trial, the team behind Dingo? Bingo! and the Myall Lakes Dingo Project plans to continue work on non-lethal management and dingo behavior and ecology more broadly.

All the colors of the dingo: not just a yellow dog

Provided by
University of New South Wales

Dingo? Bingo! How you can help dingo research from home (2022, April 29)
retrieved 29 April 2022

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