Understanding conflict among experts working on controversial species: A case study on the Australian dingo

Authors: Valerio Donfrancesco, Benjamin L Allen, Rob Appleby, Linda Behrendorff, Gabriel Conroy, Mathew S Crowther, Christopher R Dickman, Tim Doherty, Bronwyn A Fancourt, Christopher E Gordon, Stephen M Jackson, Chris N Johnson, Malcolm S Kennedy, Loukas Koungoulos, Mike Letnic, Luke K‐P Leung, Kieren J Mitchell, Bradley Nesbitt, Thomas Newsome, Carlo Pacioni, Justine Phillip, Brad V Purcell, Euan G Ritchie, Bradley P Smith, Danielle Stephens, Jack Tatler, Lily M van Eeden, Kylie M Cairns

Published in: Conservation Science and Practice


Expert elicitation can be valuable for informing decision-makers on conservation and wildlife management issues. To date, studies eliciting expert opinions have primarily focused on identifying and building consensus on key issues. Nonetheless, there are drawbacks of a strict focus on consensus, and it is important to understand and emphasize dissent, too.

This study adopts a dissensus-based Delphi to understand conflict among dingo experts. Twenty-eight experts participated in three rounds of investigation.

We highlight disagreement on most of the issues explored. In particular, we find that disagreement is underpinned by what we call “conflict over values” and “conflict over evidence.” We also note the broader role played by distrust in influencing such conflicts.

Understanding and recognizing the different elements shaping disagreement is critical for informing and improving decision-making and can also enable critique of dominant paradigms in current practices. We encourage greater reflexivity and open deliberation on these aspects and hope our study will inform similar investigations in other contexts.

Donfrancesco V, Allen BL, Appleby R, Behrendorff L, Conroy G, Crowther MS, Dickman CR, Doherty T, Fancourt BA, Gordon CE, Jackson SM, Johnson CN, Kennedy MS, Koungoulos L, Letnic M, Leung LK ‐P., Mitchell KJ, Nesbitt B, Newsome T, Pacioni C, Phillip J, Purcell BV, Ritchie EG, Smith BP, Stephens D, Tatler J, van Eeden LM, Cairns KM (2023) Understanding conflict among experts working on controversial species: A case study on the Australian dingo. Conservation Science and Practice PDF DOI