Insects for breakfast and whales for dinner: the diet and body condition of dingoes on Fraser Island (K'gari)
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Top-predators play stabilising roles in island food webs, including Fraser Island, Australia. Subsidising generalist predators with human-sourced food could disrupt this balance, but has been proposed to improve the overall health of the island’s dingo (Canis lupus dingo) population, which is allegedly ‘starving’ or in ‘poor condition’. We assess this hypothesis by describing the diet and health of dingoes on Fraser Island from datasets collected between 2001 and 2015. Medium-sized mammals (such as bandicoots) and fish were the most common food items detected in dingo scat records. Stomach contents records revealed additional information on diet, such as the occurrence of human-sourced foods. Trail camera records highlighted dingo utilisation of stranded marine fauna, particularly turtles and whales. Mean adult body weights were higher than the national average, body condition scores and abundant-excessive fat reserves indicated a generally ideal-heavy physical condition, and parasite loads were low and comparable to other dingo populations. These data do not support hypotheses that Fraser Island dingoes have restricted diets or are in poor physical condition. Rather, they indicate that dingoes on Fraser Island are capable of exploiting a diverse array of food sources which contributes to the vast majority of dingoes being of good-excellent physical condition.
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