Thomas Newsome


Just out – Resolving the value of the dingo in ecological restoration

The dingo. Source Bobby Tamayo.

The dingo. Source Bobby Tamayo.

There is global interest in restoring populations of apex predators, both to conserve them and to harness their ecological services. In Australia, reintroduction of dingoes (Canis dingo) has been proposed to help restore degraded rangelands. This proposal is based on theories and the results of studies suggesting that dingoes can suppress populations of prey (especially medium- and large-sized herbivores) and invasive predators such as red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and feral cats (Felis catus) that prey on threatened native species. However, the idea of dingo reintroduction has met opposition, especially from scientists who query the dingo’s positive effects for some species or in some environments.

In a new paper published today in Restoration Ecology we ask ‘what is a feasible experimental design for assessing the role of dingoes in ecological restoration?’ We outline and propose a dingo reintroduction experiment – one that draws upon the existing dingo-proof fence – and identify an area suitable for this (Sturt National Park, western New South Wales). Although challenging, this initiative would test whether dingoes can help restore Australia’s rangeland biodiversity, and potentially provide proof-of-concept for apex predator reintroductions globally.

You can view the paper HERE


How can we improve the protection of our native mammals?

We explore this question in an article published today in The Conversation.

To read the full article titled “Mourn our lost mammals, while helping the survivors battle back ” click HERE


Gone from this earth: Four of the 30 Australian mammal species that have gone extinct since European settlement. The desert rat-kangaroo (top left), the eastern hare-wallaby (top right), the white-footed rabbit-rat (bottom left), and the pig-footed bandicoot (bottom right).


Carnivore coexistence: trophic cascades. A reply to Chapron et al.

G. Chapron et al. recently published a compelling case that large carnivores and people can successfully share the same landscape.

They do so by highlighting that Europe now has stable or increasing populations of brown bears, Eurasian lynx, gray wolves and wolverines in human-dominated landscapes. They attribute this success to protective legislation, supportive public opinion and a variety of practices making coexistence between large carnivores and people possible.

In a reply to the article (published today), William Ripple and I argue that the conclusions of Chapron et al. are a beginning, not an end, to an inquiry into the possibilities and implications of coexistence.

We argue that a successful model of coexistence will need to achieve not merely the fact of coexistence, but one which preserves to the greatest extent possible the critical role played by large carnivores on ecosystem processes.

You can view the article HERE



We made it!

A huge thanks to everyone who donated and supported our crowd funding campaign.

We met our goal and successfully raised $12,455.

The donations will assist with the costs of aerial capturing deer via helicopter this coming winter.

We had 95 donors, which means the average donation was around $130. This is extremely generous and we even had three donors give $1500, which provided a huge boost to our campaign.

If you would like to follow our research you can join the Facebook group called Washington Wolf Project.

Alternatively, the Predator Ecology Lab at the University of Washington now have an active blog.

The crowd funding team (from left to right): Apryle Craig, Thomas Newsome, Justin Dellinger, Aaron Wirsing, Carolyn Shores

The crowd funding team (from left to right): Apryle Craig, Thomas Newsome, Justin Dellinger, Aaron Wirsing, Carolyn Shores.

Special journal issue on arid zone science

Alan Newsome with red kangaroo in central Australia

Alan Newsome with red kangaroo

This week the journal Historical Records of Australian Science launched a special issue exploring sciences contribution to the understanding of the arid interior of Australia.

My contribution came though an article summarising the early research on the red kangaroo and the dingo.

You will note from my title, Makings of Icons: Alan Newsome, the Red Kangaroo and the Dingo, that my contribution is a rather personal piece.

Below is a copy of the abstract and link to the journal web page.


The red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) and the dingo (Canis dingo) are two of Australia’s iconic mammals. Both are ingrained in the national psyche and well known internationally. For the red kangaroo, recognition has come despite the fact that the highest densities of the species occur well away from most of the human population. The dingo has achieved its status despite being present on the continent for perhaps as little as 3,000 years. This article considers the question of how, and why, these two animals became so elevated in the popular imagination and the scientific literature. It is a story of both the integers and consequences of scientific research, a story best told with a particular focus on the contribution made by one individual. Alan Newsome changed our understanding of the interactions between agriculture, introduced species and native wildlife, and was one of the first to understand the possibilities of enriching western science with Indigenous knowledge. He was a pioneer in explaining—particularly by reference to the red kangaroo in central Australia—the remarkable story of how Australian wildlife has adapted to survive some of the harshest conditions on the planet. His work across the landscape of the arid zone has had profound implications for management and conservation in Australia. This, then, is the story of three icons: the red kangaroo, the dingo and Alan Newsome.


We are almost there!

On the 15th October 2014 I posted a blog outlining an exciting crowd funding campaign led by the Predator Ecology Lab at the University of Washington.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $12,000 to help fund research that is assessing the impacts of recolonising wolves on other carnivores, deer populations and plants.

We have been overwhelmed by the support so far, but we haven’t met our goal.

We are currently 81% funded, which means we have 6 days to raise approximately $2,300.

You can help by donating here or by simply sharing the link below with as many friends as possible over the next 6 days.

Hopefully the title of my next blog will be “We made it!”.

Snow-shoeing in Yellowstone

Thanks for your support!

Crowdfunding Wolf Research: The Impact of Wolves in the American West


In collaboration with the University of Washington Predator Ecology Lab we are launching an online crowdfunding effort.

Led by Professor Aaron Wirsing, we hope to raise $12,000 US to fund radio collaring deer as part of an ongoing wolf study.

Our goal is to better understand how the return of these top predators to Washington may impact other carnivores, deer populations, and perhaps even plants.

To visit our campaign page and see our promotional video click here.

Please share our campaign page with as many friends as possible!