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How dingoes sculpt the shape of sand dunes in the Australian desert

Phys.org/news (JULY 4, 2018 )

Titre : How dingoes sculpt the shape of sand dunes in the Australian desert

A new study by UNSW scientists has shown how the presence – and absence – of dingoes affects the desert landscape.

Phys.org/news (JULY 4, 2018 )

Présentation
Removing predators from an ecosystem can have a domino effect that impacts the geography of the environment and even the pattern of wind and sand movement, a new study by UNSW scientists has shown.

In the Strzelecki Desert in north-west New South Wales, the Dingo Fence is a man-made barrier that has been in the landscape for over a century. The Dingo Fence was built in the 1800s to keep dingoes away from private land and livestock. On the NSW side of the Dingo Fence is Sturt National Park, but dingo culling still occurs, as the animals are considered a pest to livestock producers.

Over the years, the dune fields of the near dingo-free side of the fence have been transformed. Feral fox and cat populations flourished without the competition of a larger predator. In turn the native population of herbivores, such as hopping mice, suffered, and native vegetation cover increased in their absence.

The increased vegetation also altered the patterns of wind flow and sand movement and how the sand settled on the sand dunes. Increased vegetation cover locked down the sand and sediment and allowed the wind to ’flow’ over the top, creating taller dune peaks. In contrast, on the South Australia and Queensland side of the fence where dingoes were still present, the sand dunes were generally ’flatter’ and not as tall.

Source  : Ivy Shih, University of New South Wales

Annonce (Phys.org/news)

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