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Dr Thomas Newsome

Dr Thomas Newsome2013 Fulbright New South Wales Scholar Sponsored by the New South Wales Government and universities

“The Australian understanding and approach to dingoes is characterised by conflicting and often extreme views on what role the dingo should have, if any.”

Dr Thomas Newsome, an Honorary Research Fellow of the Desert Ecology Research Group at the University of Sydney, and Senior Ecologist at the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, is this year’s Fulbright NSW Scholar Sponsored by the New South Wales Government and universities. Through his Fulbright, Thomas will go to Oregon State University (OSU). He will collaborate with researchers from both OSU and the University of Washington on research into the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park. Bringing together experts in the U.S. and Australia, Thomas’ focus will be on whether there would be benefits for Australia in using similar measures with dingoes in areas where they have become locally extinct.

“Research on the dingo is important for two reasons. First, wild dogs, including dingoes, cause millions of dollars of damage to agricultural productivity annually. However, and second, recent studies suggest that the reintroduction of the dingo into areas from which it has been extirpated (made locally extinct) could be the key to restoring Australian ecosystems decimated by introduced predators such as the feral cat and European red fox,” Thomas said.

“From a scientific point of view the key questions are whether the dingo has a positive or negative impact on ecosystems and whether it should be reintroduced into areas where it no longer exists. From a social and economic point of view, the questions are whether humans and dingoes can co-exist and, if so, how to manage negative interactions. Due to the contentiousness of the issues, the conflicting interests of stakeholders, and the present uncertainty in the evidence, no reintroduction of the dingo has been trialled.”

“My career goal is to find answers to those questions and be part of a solution to an issue that has remained unresolved for decades: how to manage dingoes in Australia.”

Thomas has a BSc, MSc and PhD from the University of Sydney. He has received several grants and has published his doctoral research. His awards include: Awards Australia - Finalist – Northern Territory Young Achiever; combined Australian Postgraduate Award and Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre PhD scholarship. He was selected for the pioneering Desert Knowledge Australia two-year cross-cultural leadership program for emerging leaders in Central Australia. His interests include rowing, mountain biking and golf.