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Genetic Health and Status of K’gari Wongari (Fraser Island Dingoes)

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The conservation and management of K’gari wongari are of great interest to the broader community.

Many former issues of public concern (e.g. wongari diet, health, movements, abundance etc.) have largely been resolved with an increased effort to systematically address these concerns through independent scientific evaluation and open-access publication of key datasets collected and maintained by the Department of Environment and Science, through Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service & Partnerships (QPWS&P).

Conserving K’gari’s wongari (dingo) is a subject of considerable interest to a broad section of K’gari’s stakeholders – from the Butchulla community to the tourism industry. Do their genetics hold any answers for their land managers?

However, public and scientific concern remains about the genetic health and status of wongari on the island, including the number of ‘breeders’ present. Formulating appropriate wongari management policy is more difficult without this information. The overall aim of the current research project “The genetic health and status of K’gari wongari (Fraser Island dingoes)” is to provide QPWS&P with robust information on the genetic health and status of wongari on K’gari. Information that also meets stakeholder expectations and is widely supported by the scientific community.

This will be achieved over 12 months following a stakeholder-led, expert-informed, and independent co-innovation approach that so far has included stakeholder and expert workshops, which will be followed by independent scientific analyses of existing DNA data held by QPWS&P.

The University of Southern Queensland is facilitating the project, with their key responsibilities, including:

  • provision of in-kind contributions,
  • overall project management,
  • coordination and logistics of all workshops (including the expert workshops),
  • commissioning independent analyses of samples (through UCT) and
  • preparation of all project deliverables and reports. 

The overall aim of the research program is to provide QPWS&P with robust, policy-ready information on the genetic health and status of wongari on K’gari – information that also meets stakeholder expectations and is widely supported by the scientific community.

Applied research and genetics will inform future management of K’gari’s wongari (Fraser Island dingoes)

Objectives of the research program are to garner a prioritised list of research questions from key stakeholders or identify which ‘genetics issues’ are most important to stakeholders; obtain agreed, expert advice from a variety of dingo genetics specialists on how best to assess those questions based on current analytical methods and available samples; have an independent provider analyse the samples and address these questions based on the agreed methodology; and disseminate these results in a policy-ready format to policymakers and managers.

Project outputs will include (1) quantitative data and robust, independent analyses on the genetic health and status of K’gari wongari, and (2) a final report inclusive of three documents:

(a) a report on the actual process and the execution of the research program,

(b) a scientific publication for a public audience (inclusive of all participants), and

(c) a summary document for policymakers and managers.

Together (1) and (2) of these project outputs and any other information reasonably requested by QPWS&P will comprise the Final Report.

The project outcomes will include a greater understanding of the genetic health and status of K’gari wongari, and an increased ability to manage wongari in a scientifically- and community-supported way.

Project benefits include a better understanding of the wongari management environment, improved ability for QPWS&P to articulate to the public their stewardship of, and alleviation of community concern over the management of, K’gari wongari.

Contributed by Queensland Parks and Wildlife & Partnerships


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