Media Research

The dingo: from sinner to saviour — NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research

I’m extremely excited, proud and humbled to announce that I am part of a collaborative research team awarded this year’s NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

It's a big night for 'Team Dingo' at the Eureka Prizes
It’s a big night for ‘Team Dingo’ at the Eureka Prizes.

Our research centres on the much-maligned and often polarising predator: the dingo.

Though sometimes miscast as vermin, our research shows that dingoes are key elements in the struggle to reduce damage caused by foxes, feral cats and even kanagroos; and that ecosystems with dingoes have better vegetation and more diverse and abundant populations of small native mammals. In fact, a good dose of our native dog can sustain biodiversity and help land managers control invasive species.

Part cultural icon, part livestock pest, Australia’s largest terrestrial predator is also an important component of healthy ecosystems and a useful contributor to environmental recovery and the protection of threatened species.

‘Team Dingo’ is:

  • Professor Chris Johnson, University of Tasmania
  • Dr Michael Letnic, University of New South Wales
  • Dr Euan Ritchie, Deakin University
  • Dr Arian Wallach, James Cook University
  • Adam O’Neill, Evelyn Downs Station.
'Team Dingo' celebrate at the Eureka Prizes
‘Team Dingo’ celebrate at the Eureka Prizes. Left to right: Dr Euan Ritchie, Dr Arian Wallach, Prof Chris Johnson, Dr Mike Letnic. Image: Australia Museum and Daniel O’Doherty.

On behalf of the team, I would also like to congratulate our fellow Eureka finalists: Dr David Post, Dr Francis Chiew (CSIRO), Dr Bertrand Timbal and Dr Harry Hendon (Bureau of Meteorology) for their work on the causes and predictability of climate variability and its impacts on water availability; and Dr Jason Sharples (University of New South Wales) and Richard McRae (ACT Emergency Services Agency) for their research on the causes and effects of catastrophic firestorms.

Presented annually by the Australian Museum, the Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership and commercialisation, school science and science journalism and communication.