New paper: Top predators constrain mesopredator distributions

Authors: Thomas M. Newsome, Aaron C. Greenville, Duško Ćirović, Chris R. Dickman, Chris N. Johnson, Miha Krofel, Mike Letnic, William J. Ripple, Euan G. Ritchie, Stoyan Stoyanov & Aaron J. Wirsing.

Published in: Nature Communications


The dingo is one of Australia’s top-predators. Photo by Bobby Tamayo.

Top predators can suppress mesopredators by killing them, competing for resources and instilling fear, but it is unclear how suppression of mesopredators varies with the distribution and abundance of top predators at large spatial scales and among different ecological contexts. We suggest that suppression of mesopredators will be strongest where top predators occur at high densities over large areas. These conditions are more likely to occur in the core than on the margins of top predator ranges. We propose the Enemy Constraint Hypothesis, which predicts weakened top-down effects on mesopredators towards the edge of top predators’ ranges. Using bounty data from North America, Europe and Australia we show that the effects of top predators on mesopredators increase from the margin towards the core of their ranges, as predicted. Continuing global contraction of top predator ranges could promote further release of mesopredator populations, altering ecosystem structure and contributing to biodiversity loss.


Newsome, T.M., Greenville, A.C., Ćirović, D., Dickman, C.R., Johnson, C.N., Krofel, M., Letnic, M., Ripple, W.J., Ritchie, E.G., Stoyanov, S. & Wirsing, A.J. (2017). Top predators constrain mesopredator distributions. Nature Communications, 8: 15469.


Newsome, T.M. Thinking big gives top predators the competitive edge. The Conversation, May 2017.

Strom M. Reintroducing dingoes can help manage feral foxes and cats, study suggests. Sydney Morning Herald, 23rd May 2017.

Schwing E. Study: To Mitigate Problem Predators, Give Wolves More Space, Tolerance. The Northwest News Network, 23rd May 2017.

Dingoes need more space to fight off pests, study finds. Australian Geographic, 24th May 2017.

About Aaron Greenville

I'm an Ecologist investigating how ecosystems respond to climate change and the introduction of exotic species.
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