Invited Host and Speaker Abstracts
Thomas Abeli(1), Sarah Dalrymple(1), Sandrine Godefroid(1), Andrea Mondoni(1), Jonas V. Muller(1), Simone Orsenigo(1), Graziano Rossi(1)
1. Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
The challenge of plant de-extinction: an overview
Conservation Biology is moving towards very complex actions such as de-extinction, made possible thanks to technological advances in many fields of biology. With respect to plants, the recent growth of a date palm from seeds found in a Roman archeological site in Israel and dated back to the first century BC, suggest that genotypes lost long ago can be recovered or "resurrected". Phoenix dactylifera L. exceeded the previous record of a viable seed of Canna compacta Roscoe which had been dated as being 550 years old. The case of Silene stenophylla Ledeb. individuals resurrected from plant tissues preserved in the Siberian permafrost and dating to 30,000 years ago is even more interesting and presents tangible evidence that the resurrection of extinct plant species might be possible. However, to date the issues related to ex situ source material such as herbaria, seed banks and botanical gardens have allowed the successful recovery of very few species extinct in the wild. A worldwide overview of 17 plant species formerly extinct in the wild and reintroduced highlights the key role of ex situ collection in preserving threatened species. On the other hand, it suggests that paucity of material, low genetic variation, directional selection and low seed viability will be the major challenges to plant de-extinction, that will rarely become common conservation actions.
Hannah E. Anderson(1)
1. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Reintroductions in Washington State: obstacles and accomplishments
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife employs reintroduction as a recovery tool for a wide variety of vulnerable taxa. These diverse projects are in various stages of development, implementation and maturity. Strategies in use are situationally and species dependent. For instance, the relatively straightforward approach of translocation from robust populations is used to restore populations of fishers and sage grouse. In some cases, animals are brought into captivity to increase survival at early life stages such as the head starting of western pond turtles or captive rearing of island marble butterfly. Captive breeding is sometimes used, typically when the conservation situation is extremely dire. We have collaborated with zoos and even with prisons on captive breeding of the Taylor's checkerspot butterfly. To avoid extirpation Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits were collected and a breeding program established in the Oregon Zoo. Pygmy rabbit reintroduction work continues today, but strategies have evolved. Rabbits are now propagated in semi-wild breeding enclosures on release sites. The biological aspects of reintroduction itself are paired with strategies to address conservation needs, including ensuring adequate habitat is available and providing an agreeable social landscape within which reintroductions can occur. And finally, the complexities surrounding reintroductions and the support needed to achieve results require the development of strong, trusting relationships -- partnerships are key to success. Select case studies representing the diversity of Washington's reintroduction work will be presented, highlighting the lessons learned and continued challenges.
Nicole F. Angeli(1), Lee A. Fitzgerald(1)
1. Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Texas A&M University
Repatriating species when threats still exist
A complex conservation challenge is how to repatriate extirpated species when
persistent threats still exist in historic ranges. Threats such as invasive species may never be eliminated throughout species' historic ranges, or on islands, but it is important to recognize that the landscape of threats that drove extinctions is not static. Even when threats persist at broad scales, reconfigured landscapes, such as when forests have regenerated, often contain networks of habitat for threatened biodiversity with relatively low levels of threat. On St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, the St. Croix ground lizard (Pholidoscelis polops) was extirpated from the main island. The small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) caused the extirpation, and the species persisted on two small cays and was later translocated to two islands. We predicted sufficient habitat for St. Croix ground lizards exists for repatriation to St. Croix based on three lines of evidence related to novel landscapes, habitat suitability of the lizard and mongoose, and predator attenuation. We ranked potential repatriation sites in a prioritization schema. This case demonstrates the importance of landscape transitions in changing the spatial configuration of threats to species and creating opportunities for repatriation and rewilding. Presuming that areas may never again be habitable may be overlooking how landscapes have reset the stage for recovery of species. We suggest there is great potential for repatriating native species when the current landscape of threats is considered.
1. Massey University
Predicting the fates of reintroduced populations
All translocations programmes involving predicting the fates of populations, as these predictions as essential for making decisions about whether or not to translocate and then for making decisions about ongoing management. All such predictions require models, but there is great variation in how clearly models are articulated, in the sophistication of the analyses used, and the data available. Models can be parameterised by expert opinion, post-release data, pre-release data from other populations, or a mix of these. I briefly review the modelling approaches that have been used over the last 25 years to predict fates of reintroduced populations, and highlight some key recent developments. I particularly emphasise the need to: 1) clearly articulate models used, regardless of the data available; 2) use reliable methods for eliciting expert opinion; 3) acknowledge and quantify uncertainty; 4) integrate pre-release and post-release inferences; 5) integrate multiple types of data if available to make the best possible inferences; and 6) tailor modelling and monitoring to the decisions that need to be made. Models formed at the start of programmes can potentially be used to predict the value of monitoring data for future decision-making, and this is likely to be a key area for future research.
Léo Bacon(1), Alexandre Robert(2), Yves Hingrat(1)
Long lasting differences of breeding performances of translocated North African Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata undulata). A matter of release strategy.
The success of conservation translocation programmes is closely related to the ability of translocated individuals to survive and reproduce in the wild. Several studies showed that translocated individuals have lower demographic performance than their wild-born conspecifics, referring to potential "cost of release". However, because inferences are made at the population (not individual) level, it remains difficult to understand how age and release strategy influence such costs, as well as whether they are temporary or permanent. Here, we investigated the effect of bird origin (wild versus released) on six breeding parameters measured over 15 years into the wild on captive-bred released (n=204) and wild-born (n=101) North African Houbara bustards. We investigated if age and the period of release affected breeding performances of captive-bred released females. Our results indicate that released females successfully breed in the wild. However, for three out of six breeding parameters studied, released females show lower performance than wild-born females. Although, we observed consistent age effects in performances, suggesting an increase of breeding performances at young ages, we did not uncover any interaction between age and the origin of females, suggesting that the impairment of breeding parameters in released females is long lasting. Nonetheless, these effects were significant only for females released in spring relative to wild-born females, with females released in autumn having intermediate breeding performances. Although captive-bred released females reproduce and contribute to the dynamics of the population, our results uncover complex costs associated to female origin that can be minimized through an appropriate translocation strategy.
Joe Bellis(1), David Bourke(1), Sarah Dalrymple(1), Colm Bowe(1)
1. Liverpool John Moores University
Identifying and assessing potential assisted colonisation sites for European alpine birds
Assisted colonisation (AC) is increasingly proposed as a management strategy for proactively conserving species threatened by climate change. Alpine species are often considered candidates for AC due to the high levels of climate change exposure and finite amount of area available in alpine environments for tracking climatic shifts. Using a species distribution modelling approach, we aimed to predict the impact of climate change on the distributions of six European alpine bird species and identify potential AC sites situated beyond their natal dispersal capabilities. Additionally, we aimed to propose the most suitable source populations for each AC site, based on quantifications of climatic overlap between extant population sites and potential AC sites. We assessed potential AC sites by considering their longevity of climate suitability, land cover suitability and protected area coverage. Our models predict that each species will suffer decreases in climatically suitable area by 2080, with losses ranging from 59 to 80% under a realistic dispersal scenario. These losses are likely to be concentrated in Europe's southerly mountain ranges, where the majority of species are predicted to lose their entire climatically suitable area. Our suitability assessments resulted in the identification of candidate AC sites for five species, with the most frequently suitable site occurring in the Western Carpathian Mountains of Central Europe. Overall, our findings suggest that climate change will cause significant decreases in suitable climate area for European alpine birds, but that AC could offset some of these losses by introducing individuals to suitable sites beyond their dispersal reach.
John Bender(1), Evan Rehm(2), Julie Savidge(4), Evan Fricke(3), Haldre Rogers(3)
1. Lincoln Park Zoo
2. University of California-Santa Barbara
3. Iowa State University
4. Colorado State University
Determining seed dispersal services by avian frugivores to guide rewilding efforts
Rewilding to restore ecological function is gaining attention as a conservation tool. Guam is a prime candidate for rewilding given the invasion of Brown Treesnakes (BTS) and subsequent extirpation of almost all native avian species has severely altered ecosystem structure and function. The loss of avian frugivores resulted in major disruptions to the seed dispersal network, leading to altered forest dynamics as the majority of tree species rely on birds for seed dispersal. Prior to BTS introduction there were four main frugivorous birds native to Guam: Bridled White-eye, Micronesian Starling, Mariana Fruit-dove, and White-throated Ground-dove. We sought to evaluate the effectiveness of each frugivore in order to prioritize restoration efforts.
BTS have yet to reach the nearby island of Saipan, leaving the avian community relatively intact. To assess the diet of all avian frugivores, we collected fecal samples from wild-caught birds and fed seeds to captive birds. We paired movement patterns from radio telemetry with gut passage times (GPT) to build species-specific dispersal kernels and compare dispersal distances between the frugivore species.
Fecal samples revealed that Mariana Fruit-doves, Micronesian Starlings and Golden White-eyes account for the majority of avian interactions with plant species (28 of 33 interactions).
In summary, two species formally found on Guam are effective seed dispersers on Saipan, with starlings dispersing seeds over 3 times further away from the source tree than fruit-doves. Two additional frugivores likely disperse few seeds because they act as seed predators or have morphological restrictions to seed ingestion.
1. Nottingham Trent University
Utilising individual personality differences to develop reintroduction strategies
Integrating consideration of animal personality into conservation management may increase the likelihood of survival at the individual level, thus ultimately assisting population level goals. Findings from personality studies within species management and reintroduction programmes illustrate the impact of personality on survival, dispersal, and reproduction. Post-release survival and movements of reintroduced captive-bred swift fox (Vulpes velox) were shown to relate to individual boldness levels, with mortality and increased movement correlated to high boldness. Captive California Channel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae), released on Catalina Island with no predators, demonstrated higher boldness as positively associated with earlier pairing of mates and higher reproduction. Boldness influenced survival, dispersal and reproduction of free-living San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) in two habitats with differing selection pressures, with a trade-off effect between boldness and survival or reproduction observed. These findings suggest that behavioural diversity in release groups would provide greater likelihood of success. To assess the effect of personality-based group composition on post-release survival and site retention, experimental release groups of wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus) of differing personality types (All Bold, All Shy and Mixed) were created in a simulated reintroduction programme. The behaviourally diverse 'Mixed' group demonstrated the highest levels of survival and site retention. Based on these findings, it is recommended that consideration of personality composition should be incorporated into reintroduction planning, to allow strategies to be tailored at the habitat or individual level.
Mirtha Ruiz Díaz(1), Irene Gauto(2), Haroldo Silva(1), Noelia Silva(1), Mario Rodríguez(1), Alicia Mendoza(1), Pier Cacciali(2), Francisco J. Calonga(1)
1. Superintendencia de Gestión Ambiental MA, Dirección de Coordinación DC, Entidad Binacional Itaipú, Avenida Monseñor Rodriguez 150, Ciudad del Este, Paraguay
2. Asociación Etnobotánica Paraguaya, Ecuador 450, Lambaré, Paraguay
Rescue plan for Butia marmorii Noblick (Arecaceae), a critically endangered palm species
Butia marmorii Noblick is a grass-like palm endemic to Paraguay and critically endangered. There are only four known populations remaining in less than 30 hectares in total. None of these populations is located in protected areas, and all are located in private lands in a highly modified landscape due to intensive agriculture. The rescue plan for the species seek for the creation of at least two ex situ populations inside protected areas managed by Entidad Itaipú Binacional. The selected area for the reintroduction of the species is located less than 50 km from the current populations and all these sites share similar ecological traits. Additionally, we plan to develop a seed bank and a culture line for the species in the Entidad Itaipú Binacional's plant nursery. At the same time we work with the owners of the land where natural populations of Butia are present, as well as with local farmers and authorities, with the aim of preserving the habitat and rise awareness about the importance of the species.
Stefano Canessa(1), Fabrizio Oneto(2), Dario Ottonello(2), Giacomo Rosa(2), Sebastiano Salvidio(2)
1. Ghent University, Belgium
2. Università di Genova, Italy
Simple adaptive management for moving little toads
Adaptive management is both a very valuable tool for conservation and one of its greatest clichés. One of the most common misconceptions is that formal adaptive management requires large-scale, long-term programs with considerable dedicated resources. Here, we present a clear example of why this is a false belief, and adaptive management is easy to scale and implement. We faced a decision problem when planning the reintroduction of endangered yellow-bellied toads Bombina variegata in northern Italy. We needed to choose how to produce animals for release: full captive breeding (small-scale due to insufficient funding), wild-wild translocation of eggs (cheap but risky), or headstarting wild-harvested eggs and releasing juveniles (a potential compromise)? In the first year, we actively compared egg translocation and headstarting, targeting monitoring to the survival of released individuals under the two methods and updating our estimates. Based on this additional knowledge, in the second year we adjusted our decisions and switched to a passive strategy: we put all our resources into headstarting and continued monitoring to verify that outcomes confirmed this was the best method. The project is now in its third year and survival of released animals continues to improve. We achieved success with grassroots-level resources, showing that adaptive management is not the reserved domain of large, complex programs with state-of-the-art technical skills and big budgets. Small reintroduction projects can benefit greatly from being managed adaptively: the key is to truly understand some key principles, to have a desire to act rationally and to do some hard thinking.
1. Griffith University, Australia
Overview of challenges and opportunities for future conservation translocations
The future looks bleak for threatened species; there are too many of them coupled with not enough funding for conservation, and the situation is only expected to worsen. Conservation translocations have the potential to be among the most efficient tools for preventing species extinction. However, despite being widely used across many taxa, there are significant challenges to their success. Stakeholders and their decisions at the local, national, and international level can influence whether a translocation succeeds at establishing free-ranging populations. I will present an overview of the challenges faced by conservation translocation at those levels, through environmental, social, and technical lenses. I will then address how we could use established knowledge and methods from other disciplines to find solutions to these problems (e.g. decision science, economics, and engineering). The key to future success of conservation translocations may be thinking outside the box today to anticipate tomorrow's challenges.
Judy Che-Castaldo(1), John Andrews(1), Michelle Hoffman(2)
1. Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology, LPZ; AZA Population Management Center, LPZ
2. Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation
A population viability analysis to inform reintroduction of the Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi)
The Eastern indigo snake is listed as Threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and its Recovery Plan specifies a goal of reestablishing populations in parts of its native range where it has been extirpated. Breeding for reintroduction primarily occurs at Central Florida Zoo's Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation, which participates in the cooperative management of the ex situ population of Eastern indigos in North American zoos. In collaboration with managers, we conducted a population viability analysis (PVA) for the ex situ population to help determine the breeding rates needed to achieve the reintroduction goal of 60 animals per year. We used studbook data to construct an individual-based simulation model and projected population dynamics under multiple breeding rates and management strategies. With current breeding rates, the population is projected to grow beyond the current space capacity (requiring spaces for an additional ~85 snakes) and have the potential to support ~20 releases per year. We also found that by further adding space, increasing breeding by ~22 hatches per year, and headstarting eggs from ~8 gravid females per year, the population could produce ~60 snakes for release each year. Results also indicate that bringing in adult snakes from the wild into the ex situ population would be less effective than increasing breeding rates and/or headstarting eggs for achieving reintroduction goals. Our PVA model helps inform decision-making at the start of the reintroduction program, but it will also be updated as more and newer data become available to support ongoing management.
Tara Chestnut(1), Jeff Lewis(1), Jason Ransom(1), Dave Werntz(1), Erin Burke(1)
1. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, Conservation Northwest, Mount Rainier National Park
Reintroducing Fishers (Pekania pennanti) to their historical range in Washington State, USA: progress in the South Cascades
Fishers (Pekania pennanti), a mid-sized member of the weasel family, occurred in the coniferous forests of Washington until the early and mid-1900s when they were extirpated as a result of over-trapping, habitat loss, and predator eradication programs. Our multi-agency partnership is actively reestablishing self-sustaining fisher populations in three large areas of the fisher's historical range in western Washington: Olympic Peninsula, southern Cascades Range, and northern Cascades Range. This presentation will provide a progress report on the ongoing fisher reintroduction in the southern Cascades. Since December of 2015, we have released 69 fishers (38F, 31M; each has a radio-transmitter) at two locations within the southern Cascades: 53 (30F, 23M) in Gifford Pinchot National Forest and 16 (8F, 8M) in Mount Rainier National Park; 23 were released in Year 1 (fall/winter 2015-16) and 46 in Year 2 (fall/winter 2016-17). To measure initial success, we are monitoring fisher movements, survival, home range establishment, and reproduction. For fishers released in Year 1, we observed relatively short/moderate movements, high survival rates (0.77), >60% home range establishment by females. We confirmed reproduction in one Year 1 female in her second season. We will present preliminary results from our monitoring efforts to date, including survival and status of fisher reproduction in the southern Cascades. Lastly, we will share information on anticipated year-3 efforts in the southern Washington Cascades and our planning efforts for a future fisher reintroduction in the North Cascades.
Tara Chestnut(1), Jason Ransom(1), Dave Werntz(1), Jeff Lewis(1), Hannah Anderson(1), Kristy Palmantier(2), Hanford McCloud(2), Mark Nuetzmann(2), Bill Iyall(2)
1. North Cascades National Park Service Complex, Conservation Northwest, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
2. BC Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources Operations, Nisqually Indian Tribe, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Cowlitz Indian Tribe
Cultural competence in conservation biology: a case study by the Washington Cascades Fisher Restoration Team
Conservation biology is an interdisciplinary field of study focused on the protection of biodiversity, which includes species, their habitats, and ecosystems. Each discipline brings diverse interests and values that are considered during the decision-making process. Policies such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) are in place to ensure federal agencies assess the environmental effects of a proposed action prior to decision making, including human health, economic, and social effects. Additionally, consultations with co-managers ensure an opportunity for Tribal and First Nations input on proposed actions and decision-making. These policies and consultations have direct implications to conservation projects which may alter project implementation based the outcome of interdisciplinary evaluations. Using a model of cultural competence that extends beyond established policies and consultations can facilitate more effective collaborations between disciplines and co-managers, which can provide opportunities for new insights, and result in increased trust and long-term conservation successes. The Washington Cascades Fisher Restoration Team presents an example of cultural competence in practice that was implemented during fisher translocations from central British Columbia and release events in the southern Washington Cascades.
Lucy F.R. Clive(1), Mark Hutchinson(1),(2), Mike Gardner(1)
1. Flinders University
2. South Australian Museum
The effect of admixture on F1 generation fitness: population augmentation of an endangered lizard
The pygmy bluetongue lizard, T.adelaidensis, is a medium sized skink endemic to the native grasslands of South Australia. Thought extinct for 30 years, it was rediscovered in 1992, with climatic modelling indicating that the long term persistence of the species requiring managed relocations. The species has very specific life history requirements including the use of spider burrows as refuge; traits which have contributed to the species' vulnerability to agricultural practices and climate change.
This study, an experimental translocation, aimed to augment an existing population of pygmy bluetongue lizards with conspecifics from geographically isolated populations to determine whether the two populations would breed and whether there would be altered fitness in the mixed-lineage offspring compared to the resident offspring. Six enclosures (30 x 30m) were built around an existing population; three pairs of control (comprised of residents only) and experimental enclosures (residents and translocated individuals). The fitness of all lizards were monitored monthly over two consecutive activity seasons, Oct - Mar, following the translocation and all offspring were collected at birth in late summer. Parentage analysis was conducted using seven previously described polymorphic microsatellite loci.
Our results have shown that populations readily interbreed with mixed-lineage offspring being produced for two consecutive years following the translocation; the mixed-lineage offspring showing no significantly different levels of fitness potentially arising from hybrid vigour or outbreeding depression. Whilst long-term monitoring would be needed to determine a true translocation success, the short-term results are positive in highlighting population augmentation as a successful conservation strategy for this species.
1. Zoos Victoria
A novel approach using guardian dogs to increase reintroduction success
The wild population of mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoots (EBBs) has been decimated through predation by red foxes and habitat loss. In 1989, in response to a rapidly declining population, the EBB Recovery Team was formed and set about removing EBBs from the wild and placing them at sites with suitable habitat where foxes could be controlled. Whilst there were some initial wins, by 2005 there were thought to be just 100 EBBs left on the Australian mainland.
EBBs are a simple species to reintroduce: as long as their basic habitat requirements are met, they can adapt to different habitat conditions, allowing them to persist through periods of drought and overgrazing by overabundant herbivores. Successful population establishment has just one requirement: sites must remain fox free.
For the last decade, establishing EBBs in fenced, fox-free reserves has been the priority for the Recovery Team and has prevented the extinction of EBBs, but fences alone cannot recover this species. To secure the EBB within its indigenous range, bold moves and out of the box thinking is required.
Maremma guardian dogs have been used for centuries to protect livestock. We are currently investigating whether these dogs can also be effective at protecting EBBs from fox predation therefore eliminating the need for costly predator-barrier fences. A challenging task due to the nocturnal and solitary nature of EBBs. Trials are currently underway and the latest results will be presented. If successful the EBB could one day return to the wild on mainland Australia.
1. U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) & School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS), University of Washington
Reintroductions and uncertainty: avoiding paralysis
Our satisfaction with the outcomes of conservation efforts is strongly influenced by the quality of the decision-making processes we undertake. That is, good decisions lead to better outcomes, on average. The complexity of conservation decisions, and particularly the decisions required in management of reintroductions, means that informal approaches to decision-making require decision makers to take substantial cognitive shortcuts to process all the relevant information. Formally structuring our conservation decisions is the better approach, and the science and practice of decision analysis provides us with the tools needed to do so. I will review the philosophy and process of decision analysis as applied to reintroduction decisions, including development of measurable objectives, articulation of the broadest feasible set of alternative strategies, development of predictive models, and identification of optimal actions through appropriate solution algorithms. Perhaps the single greatest challenge in making reintroduction decisions is dealing with uncertainty. Uncertainty is ubiquitous in conservation management; and the management of reintroduction efforts is particularly hampered by uncertainty. I will focus particularly on methods for making decisions under uncertainty. The promise of adaptive management - learning while doing - is particularly rich for reintroduction decisions, though applications are rare. I will close by discussing ways of making adaptive management more accessible to reintroduction managers and associated researchers.
Saul Cowen(1), Colleen Sims(1), Sean Garretson(1), Kelly Rayner(1), Keith Morris(1)
1. Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
Returning to 1616 - the ecological restoration of Western Australia's largest island
Island refuges have proved critical in safeguarding the futures of many threatened species, particularly from the threat of invasive species. However, in the example of Dirk Hartog Island in Western Australia, the removal of non-native herbivores and predators represents a significant opportunity, not just to establish another sanctuary, but to restore an entire ecosystem to an equivalent of its pre-European functional state.
The next stage in the ecological restoration of the island is the reconstruction of the island's former fauna assemblage, with 12 mammals and one bird nominated for translocation. Some of these species are understood to be modifiers of their own physical environment and it is hoped that the return of diggers, burrowers, grazers, browsers and nest-builders will help restore long-lost ecosystem function. It is also hypothesised that some herbivores may act as biological control agents for weedy plant species, but there is a risk they may also be beneficial to other weeds. Interactions between reintroduced fauna and their 'new' environment may be complex and unpredictable, and a research-focused monitoring program is being developed to investigate the impact of these translocations on the ecosystem as a whole.
Kyran Kunkle(1), Colleen Crill(1), Daniel Kinka(1)
1. American Prairie Reserve
Reintroducing flagship and keystone species to restore North Central Montana's mixed grass prairie ecosystem
The prairie ecosystem is one of the world's richest, and most imperiled. American Prairie Reserve (APR) is working with governmental and NGOs, local tribes, and private landowners to create the largest wildlife reserve in the lower 48, and to restore a fully functioning ecosystem, complete with the full suite of native prairie plants and animals.
In 2005 we successfully reintroduced bison to the landscape, after a 120-year absence, with a goal of at least 10,000 bison. We translocate and otherwise actively enhance prairie dog colonies on APR property, currently 400,000 acres and growing, which efficiently enhances habitat for over 150 associated species, many imperilled, and will include black-footed ferret reintroduction. One next step is returning swift fox (Vulpes velox) to the landscape.
Swift fox (fox) were historically abundant across Eastern Montana, but suffered heavily under extermination campaigns targeting wolves. By 1969 foxes were believed to be extinct in Montana. Since then, foxes have been successfully reintroduced in locations across the Northern Great Plains, and we intend to continue that legacy. We assessed the suitability of habitat on APR and surveyed for fox and determined that we and surrounding landscape contain abundant suitable habitat, currently uninhabited by foxes.
We propose to translocate foxes from a secure population in Montana, and re-establish them in the greater APR ecosystem. This population will provide a stepping stone to reconnecting the disjointed Northern and Southern populations, and bring us closer to restoring the full functionality of a Great Plains prairie ecosystem.
Catherine I. Cullingham(1), Axel Moehrenschlager(2)
1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
2. Centre for Conservation Research, Calgary Zoo
Genetics of reintroductions across borders: swift fox population structure requires co- management by Canada and the United States
The genetic consequences of reintroductions are rarely considered after releases cease, but long-term viability depends on linked demography and genetic health. Reintroductions of swift foxes (Vulpes velox) began after 45 years of extirpation from Canada; these have resulted in national down-listing to 'threatened' status, and the re-establishment of a small contiguous population in Montana. We have completed temporal genetic analysis of this population at two time points (2001 & 2006), using 18 polymorphic microsatellites. We found evidence to suggest positive trends of population growth, but we also identified dispersal barriers resulting in subpopulation structure. We observed a number of individuals dispersing across the Canada/US international border suggesting greater genetic connectivity among than within respective countries. This necessitates careful co-management between Canada, where the swift fox has the highest levels of legislative protection, and the United States where limited trapping for fur is now permitted. In light of these findings, we include an additional time point (2014/15) to determine whether the dynamics within the system have changed to ensure continued viability of this reintroduced population. We encourage similar analyses of reintroduced populations across international borders to determine how optimal genetic management can best mesh with different policies and conservation approaches among countries.
1. Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
Everything is connected: ecosystem functioning as a rationale for, and to improve the effectiveness of, conservation translocations
Our success in slowing the global decline of biodiversity will in part, depend on maintaining abiotic and biotic interactions that deliver niche requirements of threatened species. Being able to accurately describe the dimensions of an ecological niche is key to the effectiveness of interventions such as conservation translocations and every attempt to create a population of an endangered fungi, plant or animal is essentially a test of our understanding of the species' niche. However, organisms are not passive receptors of whatever their surroundings throw at them, and they in turn impact upon the environment and other organisms around them. This leads to the key message of this talk: while ecosystem-level processes are essential to maintain survival of the species we prioritise and conserve, they are also part of the rationale for undertaking a translocation and as conservation scientists, we have a responsibility to understand and facilitate these community-level roles. Growing evidence suggests that rare species deliver distinctive functions that can sustain biogeochemical processes and maintain ecosystem resilience to external perturbations. In a world where we cannot save everything, species that are functionally distinct should be prioritised more highly than those that might be equally rare, but functionally redundant. The evaluation of species contributions to ecosystem function in the context of past or proposed conservation translocations is likely to improve our understanding of the threatened systems we are trying to protect, the success of conservation translocations, and ultimately, will help maintain resilience in systems facing multiple threats and their cumulative impacts.
Successes and challenges in reintroductions
There are pros and cons to reintroductions. They can be 'flagship' projects, driving forward conservation management to benefit a wide range of other biodiversity. They can be inspirational and innovative and can generate popular support and publicity for conservation. They often trial and test techniques which could be used more widely for other species in other situations in the future. Most, importantly they can work in restoring populations.
However, they can take a considerable amount of time, money and effort and it is often not the best use of resources. They can also often be seen as diverting attention away from more 'worthy' conservation work. Unfortunately reintroductions often don't work - particularly where external factors have not been fixed or the best methods of doing it have not been worked out.
Most importantly, almost always, reintroductions must be part of a wider programme of work and can rarely be done in isolation. They are certainly not a quick fix solution.
This general overview will look at some of the species reintroductions the RSPB has been involved with (such as Asian vultures, white-tailed eagles, cirl buntings, and northern bald ibis) and will illustrate, with examples, the different types of challenges that have been faced in these projects. This presentation will highlight the importance of ongoing commitment and collaboration, adaptive management, partnership working and perseverance.
Sebastián Di Martino(1), Ignacio Jiménez Pérez(1), Sofía Heinonen(1), Guastavo Solís(1), Alicia Delgado(1), Jorge Peña(1), Ana Carolina Rosas(1), Emanuel Galetto(1), Maite Ríos Noya(1), Alejandro Benítez(1), Talía Zamboni(1), Noelia Volpe(1), Rafael Abuín(1), Nicolás Carro(1), Leandro Vázquez(1), Camila Vallejos(1), Giselda Fernández(1), Juan Pablo Vallejos(1), Magalí Longo(1), Fabián Yablonski(1), Elena Martín(1), Niolás Medrano(1)
1. The Conservation Land Trust Argentina
Multispecies reintroduction approach to restore the big herbivores, frugivores and carnivores in the Iberá Wetlands ecosystem (Corrientes, Argentina)
Corrientes province (Argentina) lost several species of large animals in historic times. In the Iberá Wetland, The Conservation Land Trust (CLT) helped to establish a Provincial Park of 550,000 ha and acquired 150,000 ha of neighboring lands to create the Iberá National Park. In 2007 CLT started the Iberá Rewilding Program, with the aim of reintroducing all animal species that had been extirpated in historic times So far, self-sustaining populations of giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) and pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus), and initial population nuclei of giant anteater, pampas deer, collared peccaries (Peccary tajacu), tapirs (Tapirus terrestris) and green-winged macaws (Ara chloropterus) have been established. Also an onsite breeding program for the reintroduction of jaguars (Panthera onca) has been started. Population founders come from captivity with the exception of pampas deer which are translocated from the wild. Animals go through soft-releases and are monitored by VHF telemetry. Major obstacles faced during the rewilding process included advocating the idea of reintroduction, bureaucratic challenges and species-specific challenges. Future plans include initial reintroductions of species such as the bare-faced curassow (Crax fasciolata) and the giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). This experience demonstrates that rewilding projects require abundant suitable habitat, long-term financial and organizational commitment, a solid interdisciplinary team and a high level of flexibility. The Iberá Rewilding Program represents the largest effort to reestablish extirpated species in the Americas, and is being adopted by public and private organizations in Argentina, as a model for proactive conservation.
Laura Duenas(1), Suzanne Medina(1)
1. Guam Dept of Agriculture - DAWR
Use of smaller release locations to aid in understanding species demographics and habitat needs
The ko'ko' (Guam rail, Hypotaenidia owstoni) is a flightless bird endemic to the Pacific island of Guam. Once estimated over 80,000 in the 1960s, the accidental introduction of the brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis) led to the decline of this and the rest of the island's bird population. The captive breeding program began in 1984, with the last 22 ko'ko' captured from the wild. Releases started on Rota in 1989 with over 1400 ko'ko' since released. A second release location was established on Cocos Island, south of Guam, with two releases in 2010 and 2012 of 26 birds total. Little is known of their behavior, territory size, and habitat preference in the wild. To offset this lack of knowledge, ko'ko' were tracked using transmitters both on Rota and Cocos Island. Initial findings on Rota were questionable since many birds were untrackable after release due to dispersal. Cocos Island is an ideal location to learn ko'ko' behavior and habitat suitability as the island's small size makes it easier to trap and track ko'ko. On Rota, ko'ko' occupy large territories averaging 22.82 ha for males and 9.47 ha for females. On Cocos Island, territory sizes average 6.15 ha and 5.66 ha, respectively, giving researchers a better understanding of area needed for ko'ko' releases. The Cocos Island population will provide information for future releases on Guam as release sites will most likely be enclosed similar sized areas to protect birds against predation by the brown treesnake, feral cats, and stray dogs.
Maggie Dwire(1), John Oakleaf(1), Paul Greer(1)
1. US Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department
Efficacy of release methodologies to improve gene diversity in the Mexican wolf population
The Mexican wolf has been protected as an endangered subspecies of gray wolf since 1976 under the Endangered Species Act. Mexican wolves were extirpated from the wild in the United States by the 1970s and from Mexico in the 1980s. A captive breeding program established between 1977 and 1980, from just 7 founding animals, saved the Mexican wolf from extinction. Launching from the success of the captive program, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners began releasing Mexican wolves into Arizona and New Mexico in 1998. Through 2017, more than 100 captive-born Mexican wolves have been released into the wild and more than 120 Mexican wolves have been translocated within the recovery area, using a variety of release techniques and methodologies.
Ensuring gene diversity available in the captive population is incorporated into the wild populations is a criterion necessary to achieve recovery of the species. Therefore, continued releases of more genetically diverse Mexican wolves from the captive population into the wild remains necessary. This presentation will discuss the various release methodologies and success rates observed over nearly 20 years of data, as well as the pros and cons of transitioning to cross-fostering captive born wolf pups into established wild dens to improve the gene diversity of the wild population in the United States.
Barbara Eberhard(1), Christian Sperger(1), Daniela Trobe(1), Johannes Fritz(1)
Campaign against illegal bird hunting in Italy: whole population GPS monitoring of a Northern Bald Ibis release population allows identifying hot-spot poaching areas and taking preventive measures
The European LIFE+ project "Reason for Hope"* aims to reintroduce a migratory population of the continentally extinct, critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita). One major threat for the release population is illegal hunting in Italy during autumn migration. All birds are equipped with GPS tracking devices. This allows to quantify the impact of environmental crime on the population level and to identify geographic hot-spot areas where preventive measures have to be taken primarily. After four years of the LIFE+ project, essential milestones within the campaign against illegal bird hunting could be reached. There are indications that the losses caused by this type of environmental crime are decreasing.
*The project is implemented with 50% contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union (LIFE+12-BIO_AT_000143, LIFE Northern Bald Ibis).
Jon-Paul Emery(1), Nicola Mitchell(1), John Woinarski(1), Leonie Valentine(1), Harold Cogger(1), Brendan Tiernan(1), Kent Retallick(1), Samantha Flakus(1)
1. Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the National Environment Science Programme, University of Western Australia, Research Institute for the Environment and Peoples Livelihoods, Australian Museum Research Institute, Parks Australia
The reintroduction of blue-tailed skinks to Christmas Island: eight years in the making
Christmas Island in the East Indian Ocean harbours a large number of endemic species, but since human settlement at the turn of the twentieth century, eight vertebrate species have become Extinct or are Extinct in the Wild. Reptiles have been particularly hard hit, with one of the five endemic reptiles extinct, one extirpated, and two others - the blue-tailed skink (Cryptoblepharus egeriae) and Lister's gecko (Lepidodactylus listeri) now restricted to captive breeding facilities. The introduced Asian wolf snake (Lycodon capucinus) from south-east Asia is believed to be the primary cause of the declines as their introduction coincides approximately with the spatial and temporal pattern of disappearance of Christmas Island reptiles. However, other invasive species such as black rats (Rattus rattus), Vietnamese giant centipedes, yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes) and feral cats (Felis catus) may have also played contributory roles. Fortunately, captive breeding has been successful with populations of both species recently increasing to over 1000 individuals. We are now exploring options for the release of captive bred individuals via reintroduction to introduced predator proof exclosures on Christmas Island and/or assisted colonisation to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. A preliminary release of blue-tailed skinks in 2017 into a soft-release exclosure on Christmas Island was unsuccessful. To increase the likelihood of successful subsequent reintroductions, we are exploring the interactions between these two threatened lizards, introduced species and native species, using mesocosm experiments. This knowledge, combined with significant improvements in the soft-release exclosure, will assist the second trial reintroduction.
John Ewen(1), Stefano Canessa(2)
1. Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, UK
2. Ghent University, Belgium
Future opportunities: how our science can best support conservation translocations
The Earth's biodiversity is suffering at our hands. In response, an increasingly strong conservation movement has emerged, and with it a field of science dedicated to providing both a reliable understanding of how biodiversity is changing and a strong evidence-base to counter this process. Conservation translocations are exemplary of this. They will likely continue to increase in frequency as our Earth changes and conservation reach increases. At the same time, the science we use to inform translocations is also changing in fascinating ways, following technological advances and deeper thought processes. I will review how our science has been used to support conservation translocations, how we might best ensure that exciting scientific advances continue to provide this support, and how the IUCN specialist group supporting conservation translocations is working to ensure they are most effective. Our future is one of conservation challenges, but one an increasing number of people are rising to meet. Our task is to ensure that the science we produce is not only interesting but also that it makes the greatest possible contribution to real conservation.
Susan Farabaugh(1), Sarah Sheldon(1), Jaelean Carrero(1)
1. Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global
Fostering as management tool for breeding and release of San Clemente loggerhead shrikes
Since 1991, the San Clemente Loggerhead Shrike Conservation Breeding Program has been maintaining a captive population to provide birds for annual release to augment the wild, to act as a species reservoir against loss of the wild population, and to allow recovery and rearing of abandoned wild or captive nests. In the early years of the project, artificial incubation and hand rearing was the dominant method, but through careful behavioral monitoring, parent rearing became the norm. Artificial incubation and hand rearing was used exclusively for rescue and salvage. Beginning in 2009, we began fostering eggs and later chicks that were in need of salvage or rescue. This effort allowed us to avoid hand rearing entirely and to produce parent-reared birds for release. From the success of the effort, we expanded the use of fostering to help manage the breeding efforts of captive, release, and wild pairs. We provide examples of the various forms of fostering that we have successfully used and how fostering can help manage many issues that are encountered in conservation breeding and release efforts.
Lisa Faust(1), Judy Che-Castaldo(1), and Colleen Lynch(2)
1. Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology, Lincoln Park Zoo
2. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden & AZA Population Management Center, Lincoln Park Zoo
Applying ex situ population management tools to reintroduction programs
Translocations often blend in situ and ex situ conservation strategies. Although the science applied to managing ex situ populations can support successful reintroduction programs, reintroduction practitioners may be less familiar with its application. This talk will focus on key population biology principles and analytical software tools used in the ex situ community. We will illustrate the application of these concepts and tools to reintroduction programs with examples from our collaborations, including Puerto Rican parrots, red wolves, Channel Island foxes, Andean condors, San Clemente loggerhead shrikes, and Guam rails. These examples will showcase the management strategies which are applied to 1) formation of an ex situ source population, 2) data management practices to support decision-making, including creation of studbook databases for individually-monitored populations using software such as PopLink, SPARKS, or ZIMS; 3) selection of breeding and management strategies within the ex situ population to maintain genetic and demographic health using software such as PMx; 4) evaluation of release strategies (numbers, sex ratios, frequencies, genetic criteria) to create a viable in situ population using PMx and population viability analysis (PVA) tools such as Vortex and Zoorisk; and 5) evaluation of tradeoffs in the viability of all subpopulations to best advance species recovery using PVAs. These tools will assist managers with collecting high-quality individual-level data and applying those data to implement science-based decision making to support reintroduction programs.
Deidre K. Fontenot(1), Catharine J. Wheaton(1), Nicole I. Stacy(1), Joseph A. Smith(2), Kami Fox(2), Greg Fleming, (in memoriam)(1)
1. Disney's Animal Kingdom
2. Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
Pacific avifauna conservation health programs: veterinary role in reintroduction and translocation initiatives on Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI)
The avifauna of Guam and the CNMI region are in critical decline due to the accidental introduction of the brown- tree snake (Boiga irregularis). Disney's Animals, Science, and Environment has a strong presence in the Mariana's regional repatriation and translocation programs for the Guam rail (Hypotaenidia owstoni), Micronesian kingfisher (Todiramphus cinnamominus), Rufous fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons), Marianas fruit dove (Ptilinopus roseicapilla), Tinian monarch (Monarcha takatsukasae), and both Golden (Cleptornis marchei) and Bridled white eye (Zosterops conspicillatus) partnering with other Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) institutions, Pacific Bird Conservation, and the Guam Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources and CNMI Department of Fish and Wildlife. Pre-release and translocation health surveillance show minimal health concerns to individual and population risk but baseline surveillance is important to individual and population health criteria for release fitness. Veterinary teams ex situ and in situ complete routine surveillance of populations under managed care and with pre-release and translocation events. These surveillance events from 2011- 2017 have shown the following findings: Gastrointestinal (GI) pass-through of Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) is noted with no evidence of systemic mycobacteriosis for in situ and ex situ managed care populations of Guam rail4; no evidence of MAC, pass through or systemic, in the managed care in situ kingfisher population; however, ex situ populations have reported systemic avian mycobacterosis; Campylobacter spp. has not been recovered for in situ managed care populations of rails or kingfishers despite asymptomatic shedding reported in captive ex situ populations in AZA institutions; characterization of protozoal enteric and hemoparasites is currently underway in translocated populations of white-eyes, fantails, and monarchs; nematodes and coccidian species have been noted sporadically on fecal surveillance; and validation of fecal5 and methodology for feather6 corticosterone (enzyme-immunoassay) have been conducted in the surveillance of the fantail, white-eye, monarch, and fruit dove populations. Health surveillance results guide pre-release and translocation testing criteria and release fitness for future veterinary programs for conservation of these in situ extinct and at risk Pacific avifauna species.
Johannes Fritz(1), Barbara Eberhard(1), Bernhard Gönner(1), Anne-Gabriela Schmalstieg(1), Markus Unsöld(1)
1. Waldrappteam, Austria; LIFE Northern Bald Ibis
Reintroduction of a migratory bird species: the European LIFE+ Northern Bald Ibis project
The European LIFE+ project aims to reintroduce the critically endangered Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) to Central and Southern Europe. In accordance with an international action plan for the species, a population with a completely new migration tradition is going to be established. The six-year LIFE+ project is based on a 13-year feasibility study, where key release methods, in particular the human-led migration with human-imprinted juveniles, have been developed.
Along with the reintroduction, an extensive campaign against illegal bird hunting in Italy is implemented, with the Northern Bald Ibis as a flagship species. Bio-logging of the whole population allows to quantify the impact of this environmental crime. Such population data are of high value to alert stakeholders and the public and to exert pressure on the hunting associations. So far, essential milestones could be reached.
The human-led migration is also an exclusive opportunity for studies on bird flight. Ongoing research aims to measure the aerodynamic advantage of formation flight and to investigate the proximate mechanisms that enable this kind of cooperation. The scientific studies also serve to optimize the reintroduction methods.
The project is implemented with 50 % contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union (LIFE+12-BIO_AT_000143, LIFE Northern Bald Ibis).
Stephanie Galla(1)*, Ilina Cubrinovska(1)*, Natalie Forsdick(2), Marc Hoeppner(3), Dave Houston(4), Michael Knapp(2), Richard Maloney(4), Roger Moraga(5),(6), Anna Santure(7), Tammy Steeves(1)
1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury
2. Department of Anatomy, University of Otago
3. Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology, Kiel University
4. New Zealand Department of Conservation
5. Tea Break Bioinformatics, Ltd.
6. AgResearch New Zealand
7. School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland
*Co-authors/Co-presenters contributing equally to this work
Choosing the best individuals for pairing in conservation translocation breeding programmes: a proof of concept in a critically endangered New Zealand bird
For recovery programmes of the 400+ threatened species around the globe that are bred for conservation translocations, a common question asked is: How can we choose the 'best' individuals for pairing to minimise inbreeding and maximise genetic diversity to enhance species recovery? Pairing decisions are generally based on relatedness measures using a pedigree; however recovery programmes struggle to use this approach if pedigrees are shallow or incomplete. While genetic approaches using relatively few genome-wide markers (i.e., microsatellites) can measure relatedness, emerging evidence indicates this approach lacks precision in genetically depauperate species and more accurate measures may be obtained from genomic data (i.e., thousands of genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs). Here, we compare relatedness measures using pedigree, genetic, and genomic approaches to determine the most effective and efficient method for making captive-pairing decisions using a critically endangered New Zealand bird (kakī/black stilt, Himantopus novaezelandiae) as Proof of Concept. Our findings, based on known parent-offspring and sibling relationships, indicate that genetic measures of relatedness are indeed the least informative. Additional research indicates that existing genomic resources, including reference genomes from closely related species, can enable the use of SNPs as a cost-effective method for estimating relatedness when robust pedigrees are absent. Beyond kakī, we will apply this approach to the endangered tuturuatu/shore plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae) and show how it can be readily applied to conservation translocation breeding programmes worldwide.
Alexandre Garnier(1), E.Sourp(1), J. Lafitte(1), J.P. Crampe(1), J. Estebe(2), Y. Barascud(2), G. Gonzales(3), E. Quéméré(3), S.Aulagnier(3)
1. Parc national des Pyrénées, 65000 Tarbes, France
2. Parc naturel régional des Pyrénées Ariégeoises, 09240 La Bastide de Séroux, France
3. Comportement et Ecologie de la Faune Sauvage, I.N.R.A., 31326 Castanet-Tolosan cedex, France
The reintroduction of the Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica) in the French Pyrenees, after a century of absence: first assessment and spatial behavior
The Pyrenean ibex (Capra pyrenaica pyrenica) has been completely extirpated from the French side of the Pyrenees in 1910, and the last individual was found dead in 2000 on the Spanish side. Given the lack of continuity of appropriate habitats between the Pyrenees and the closest areas inhabited by the species in northern Spain, a restoration project, including translocation of wild caught Iberian ibex, has been developed. From 2014, 204 individuals (120 females and 84 males) have been released in four sites in the Pyrenees National Park and in the Regional Natural Park of Ariege Pyrenees. Ibex were ear-tagged and fitted with VHF and GPS collars to improve the reintroduction success and to analyze their spatial ecology.
After the first three years, we can consider that the reintroduction in the French Pyrenees is on the way, with a high survival rate (~0.85), a good reproductive success (~80% for females>3 years old released in 2014 and 2015), and individuals in good condition.
During the first year after the translocation, movement behavior changes over time. Analyzing factors shaping this behavior (age, sex, sociality, period of release) helps to understand how translocated individuals explore a new habitat.
Genetics could be the main concern for the future of this population as the first analyses show quite low diversity and heterozygosity among founders. So animals from different origin should be translocated.
Adrienne Gastineau(1), Alexandre Robert(1), François Sarrazin(1), Jean-Baptiste Mihoub(1), Pierre-Yves Quenette(1)
1. CESCO, UMR7204 Sorbonne Université, MNHN, CNRS and Equipe Ours, UPAD, ONCFS
Producing risk maps of human-carnivore conflicts to enhance cohabitation success in a brown bear population in Western Europe
One of the main factors limiting the acceptance of large carnivores worldwide is livestock depredation. The restoration of the remnant brown bear, Ursus arctos, population in the Pyrenees is particularly representative of this issue. In the 90's, only five individuals were remaining in the Pyrenees. This group was reinforced through the translocation of nine individuals from Slovenia native population in 1996, 2006, 2011 and 2016. Then, in 2016, a minimum population size of 39 individuals was recorded. . Unfortunately, local acceptance of the species is still poor in part because of brown bear depredation behaviour on domestic animals with an average of 103.3±18.9 attacks per year between 2010 and 2016. In the present study, we characterize the environmental conditions of population predation events and of depredation hotspots through habitat suitability modelling. We modelled both ecological habitat features (e.g., nearest distance to forest cover) and management practices (e.g. size of the flocks) of pastoral units to produce predicted risk maps of depredation. Those risk maps should promote an adaptive management to enhance both local acceptance of bears and long-term viability of the restored population by focusing protective measures, efforts and funds on specific risk areas before or during the return of the brown bear.
This approach can be applied to the conservation and restoration of any remnant large carnivore population as it is helpful to identify priority factors to deal with for minimizing human-wildlife local conflicts as well as to project current and future high priority risk sites.
Martin Gaywood(1), Pete Hollingsworth(1)
1. Scottish Natural Heritage, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Conservation translocations in Scotland - people and species
Over the last few years Scotland has been developing a more rigorous and inclusive approach to reintroduction and other conservation translocation projects. Conservation translocation has been a frequently used tool in Scotland, at national at more local scales, and involving species from a range of animal and plant taxa (for example through Scotland's 'Species Action Framework' programme of targeted species management). A minority of these projects have been particularly high profile and contentious, for example the reintroduction of the white-tailed eagle and Eurasian beaver. These experiences resulted in the setting up of the National Species Reintroduction Forum, made up of 28 public and NGO organisations, not only from the conservation community, but also land use bodies who represent people who can be directly affected by such projects. In 2014 the Forum produced the 'Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations', launched by Scottish ministers, which provides an increased focus on socio-economic requirements, as well as biological and legal ones, and closely linked to the revised 2013 IUCN Guidelines. The presentation will look at some projects where there have been particular socio-economic challenges, assess how the Code approach to stakeholder engagement is working, and look ahead to how conservation translocation best practice may be further refined in Scotland.
James P. Gibbs(1), Washington Tapia(1), Linda J. Cayot(1)
1. Galapagos Conservancy; State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Reintroductions to restore a species complex: the science-based future of giant tortoise restoration in Galapagos
Giant tortoise restoration in Galapagos depends heavily on reintroduction of captive-reared individuals. A major recent catalyst for tortoise restoration has been the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, established expressly to address the Galapagos National Park Directorate's need for scientific guidance on giant tortoise restoration. A loosely coordinated group of national and international scientists supported by funds from their respective countries and in many cases considerable in-kind support from the Galapagos National Park Directorate has created a unique "science-management synergy" that greatly informs the reintroduction process. Genetics has proven vital in several respects: identifying best sources of "replacement" species to translocate to provide a substitute for long-lost endemic species, detecting living hybrids with significant levels of ancestry from extinct species to resurrect lost lineages, and providing clear guidance on best breeding strategies in captivity. Demographic analysis provides evaluation of success of reintroduction programs, while population modeling is being used to evaluate competing reintroduction scenarios. Ecosystem-level investigation of plant-tortoise interactions has resulted in a re-conceptualization of giant tortoises as agents of ecosystem dynamics, identified cases where ecosystem restoration may be required, and greatly expanded the rationale for tortoise reintroductions. Outside scientists working closely with the Galapagos National Park authorities have brought to bear cutting-edge scientific perspectives on captive-rearing, reintroduction, and restoration practices in Galapagos to inform decision-making and substantially enhance success of tortoise restoration efforts for this species complex.
Tania Gilbert(1), Philip Riordan(1), Marie Petretto(1), Tim Woodfine(1), Salem Trigui(2), Mohamed Nouioui(2)
1. Marwell Wildlife, UK
2. Direction Générale des Forêts, Tunisia
Thirty years of scimitar-horned oryx reintroductions in Tunisia: born to re-wild?
Scimitar-horned oryx Oryx dammah were first released from zoos into a Tunisian national park in 1985. Since then the species has been re-established in three more fenced protected areas in Tunisia, creating a metapopulation within the protected area system. Set against a background of environmental and socio-economic change, the re-establishment of scimitar-horned oryx in Tunisia might at first appear trivial. The validity of such conservation actions might be further questioned when we consider whether these animals truly represent their wild forebears, or even whether these released populations can be considered 'wild'. Certainly, the re-established populations do not meet the criteria for 'wild populations' under the IUCN SSC 'Red List of Threatened Species' and the scimitar-horned oryx remains 'Extinct in the Wild' despite thirty-years of 'reintroductions' in Tunisia. In a world where ecosystems are coming under increasingly anthropogenic pressure, what can we anticipate the 'wild' to even look like in the future?
In order to act, and for our actions to have significant and lasting impact, we must openly and truthfully acknowledge and address often uncomfortable considerations. The conservation of scimitar-horned oryx in Tunisia offers insights into how we might conserve large-bodied animals in fragmented landscapes, particularly within the Sahelo-Saharan region of North Africa. Here, we review the historical steps taken, and examine the outcomes, in terms of individual, population and ecosystem responses. By anticipating change, we highlight key areas in which action might be targeted to greatest effect and aligned with wider goals to maximise the value of our efforts.
1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Adapting to the black-footed ferret reintroduction reality
First impressions in various life experiences often can be wrong. Wildlife managers who think that other stakeholders associated with their management conundrums think as they do will endure repeated frustrations if they can't honestly, and regularly, assess and appreciate all perspectives. A few black-footed ferrets (ferret), one of the most endangered mammals in North America, were rescued from the wild on private ranches in Wyoming in the mid 1980s. They and their progeny were then captive bred at several zoos, and have been reintroduced annually on private, government, and Tribal lands since 1991. Reintroduction efforts have occurred at 30 sites in eight western states, Mexico, and Canada. Along the way, hundreds, probably thousands, of individuals from many diverse perspectives have been involved. The coordination of ferret recovery interests and efforts, particularly with those outside the wildlife community, has been an essential element for ferret conservation. Flexible accommodations developed to support a voluntary, non-regulatory, and incentive based approach to ferret recovery in the context of established social, political, economic, and legal norms have resulted in broad endorsement by both wildlife interests and parties often inimical to endangered species recovery. Finding common ground among uncommon partners is a continuing challenge.
Bernhard Gönner(1), Johannes Fritz(1)
1. Waldrappteam, Schulgasse 28, 6162 Mutters, Austria
Evaluation of the human-led migration as a method for the reintroduction of a migratory Northern Bald Ibis population
The Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) is a critically endangered bird species, occurring in the wild only in sedentary colonies in Morocco, Turkey and Spain. Since 2014, the European LIFE+ reintroduction project aims to reintroduce a migratory Northern Bald Ibis population, with breeding colonies in Austria and Germany and a common wintering area in Italy. The project is based on a 13-year feasibility study.
For release, chicks from zoo breeding colonies are raised by human foster parents and trained to follow a microlight. During the so-called human-led migrations, the human-raised juveniles follow their foster parents in the microlights once in autumn of their first year of live from the breeding site in several stages to the wintering site. After the journey, the juveniles are released. In the context of the LIFE+ project, human-led migrations are performed annually. The method was continuously improved. Meanwhile, daily flight stages of up to 360 km with up to 32 birds are possible.
The release population consist of more than 80 birds. Since 2011, an increasing amount of wild birds migrate, reproduce and lead the offspring to the wintering site, independent of humans. In the poster, we evaluate the human-led migration method due to survival rate and reproductive success, in comparison with the wild birds of the release population.
Thomas NE Gray(1), Nick Marx(1), Rachel Crouthers(2), Jonathan Eames(3)
1. Wildlife Alliance, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
2. WWF Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
3. Raising Phoenix PLC, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Returning Cambodia's roar: tigers and other re-wildling opportunities in South East Asia
South-East Asia is at the epicenter of the global extinction crisis with widespread extirpations and population declines of keystone species impacting ecosystem functionality. Given this degradation of ecosystems what role can re-wildling and reintroduction science play in the region?
At least five re-wildling projects are underway or in development within Cambodia. The motivation of these projects varies from threatened species conservation, to restoring ecosystems, to flagship projects for landscape conservation. The ubiquitous illegal wildlife trade across the region presents an opportunity for sourcing animals for re-wilding. Such stock has been used to return pileated gibbon and Indochinese lutung to the forests surrounding the iconic temples of Angkor Watt. In contrast to re-wildling in Europe these projects look to recreate ecosystems present <50 years ago. As such societal support for re-wildling may be higher than in places where species were extirpated in the more distant past. A Structured Decision Making process to clarify the motivations for undertaking tiger reintroduction highlighted the potential role of tigers as a flagship for landscape conservation as the most important objective followed by a project which would appeal to the government. A strategy involving fencing a proportion of the release protected area and the managed re-wildling of domesticated buffalo, to supplement tiger prey, was identified as the optimal strategy. Despite the challenges tiger reintroduction, and other iconic re-wildling projects, have the potential to galvanize conservation within South-East Asia and leverage the political and financial support necessary to transform conservation in the region.
Alison Greggor(1), Bryce Masuda(1), Ron Swaisgood(1)
1. Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global
Using tools from animal behavior and learning to help save the 'Alalā
Insights from the field of animal behavior and learning can serve as valuable tools in conservation management, especially in reintroduction programs. When captive bred animals are released into the wild, it cannot be assumed that they have retained the survival skills they need to succeed. We explain how we implement and rely on behavioral training as part of the reintroduction program for the critically endangered 'Alalā (Corvus hawaiiensis). As a long-lived, intelligent species, the 'Alalā are particularly susceptible to the effects of life in conservation breeding facilities. We detail the behavioral methods and evaluative steps we take to prepare the birds for life in the wild. By using realistic, biologically relevant stimuli and focusing on learning mechanisms, we promote anti-predator behavior, track native fruit foraging proficiency and monitor the social interactions of the release cohorts. Together these tools allow us to assess an individual's readiness for release and to evaluate reintroduction success. Therefore, animal behavior research offers opportunities for improving reintroduction outcomes.
1. Associação Onçafari
Reintroduction of two jaguars (Panthera onca) in the Pantanal (Mato Grosso do Sul - Brazil)
Jaguars are considered near threatened in Latin America, and its population has declined by almost 20% in the last three decades. They are regionally extinct in some areas of their range and quite a few wild animals end up in captivity every year. In general all jaguars in captivity have no chance to return to nature. Training captive jaguar cubs to hunt is the biggest challenge in the process of reintroducing them in to the wild.
A one-hectare enclosure was built inside a 53.000 hectares private protected area in Mato Grosso do Sul State (Pantranal, Brazil) in order to teach jaguars to become wild again.
The local jaguar population has been studied for the last seven years.
Two 3 months old orphan sisters were sent to a wildlife rescue center for 8 months. When they were just over a year old they were sent to this enclosure in the Pantanal. They were offered a total of 46 live animals (16 white-lipped peccaries, 15 capybaras, 08 caimans, 06 domestic pigs) and both learned how to perfect their hunting technics. All this data was recorded. In June 2016 the gates where opened and the jaguars were released back into the wild wearing GPS/VHF collars. Two days later, one jaguar made its first kill in the wild, while the other was filmed mating.
The sisters, now four years old, are still being monitored. They have hunted 12 different species of wild prey and have been seen interacting with 09 different wild jaguars.
Christina Hagen(1), Ross M Wanless(1)
1. BirdLife South Africa
Lessons from initial phases of establishing new African penguin colonies in South Africa
Despite enormous, costly interventions for known threats, the African Penguin Sphensicus demersus population in South Africa continues to decrease rapidly. A major recent driver is poor food availability due to shifting forage fish distributions and fishery competition; both may prove impossible to address directly (particularly if climate change is a root cause). The South African population is split into two main centres separated by 600 km. Establishing a new colony mid-way between these centres will increase resilience to catastrophic events (e.g. oil spills, disease outbreaks), increase the overall population size and reduce the relative effects of large-scale, multi-year environmental forcing events (e.g. the loss of fish on the west coast) on the entire population.
Translocation of seabirds to novel sites is uncommon in South Africa and establishing new colonies has never before been attempted for the African Penguin. We explore the reasons behind the need to attempt this additional conservation measure for the species. Two suitable sites have been identified for colony establishment, with work beginning at one of these, using a combination of social attraction techniques and planned chick translocations. We discuss the process followed to make the decision to establish new penguin colonies in the face of extreme uncertainty, and the need for risk assessments and finding a balance between action and risk management when considering an endangered species.
Lauren Harrington(1), Natasha Lloyd(2), Axel Moehrenschlager(2)
1. University of Oxford
2. Calgary Zoo
Animal welfare considerations in reintroductions
Despite differences in focus, goals, and strategies between conservation biology and animal welfare, both are inextricably linked in many ways, and greater consideration of animal welfare, although important in its own right, also has considerable potential to contribute to conservation success. Nevertheless, animal welfare and animal ethics are not always considered explicitly within conservation practice. Eight years ago, two of the authors of this presentation (LH and AM) carried out a systematic review of the literature on reintroductions of captive‐bred and wild‐caught animals (mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles) to quantify the occurrence of animal welfare issues in published reintroduction projects. We identified potential welfare issues (of variable nature and extent) in 67% of 199 projects reviewed; the most common were potentially high mortality rates, dispersal or loss of animals, disease, and human conflict. The aims of this presentation are twofold. First, we present a decision tree that outlines how practitioners can address animal‐welfare issues in reintroductions by considering the potential implications for individual animals at all stages of the release process. This is an aspect of reintroductions that we feel is still somewhat neglected. Second, we incorporate an interactive survey in which we seek the views of practitioners attending the conference on the most important potential animal‐welfare issues, mitigation actions they have used, and information on their efficacy. Moral dilemmas in reintroductions are common and our objective is to work towards transparent evaluation and thus to advance communal strategies for dealing with them.
Lynda Donaldson(1), Geoff M Hilton(1), Rebecca Lee(1), Baz Hughes(1), Nigel Jarrett(1), Jen Smart(2), Mark Whiffin(2), Hannah Ward(2)
1. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, GL27BT, UK
2. RSPB, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL, UK
Headstarting as a conservation tool for shorebirds
Headstarting - the release into the wild of animals that have been harvested from the wild at an earlier life-stage - is a technique developed largely for chelonian species, which have extremely high juvenile mortality. The aim is to increase overall population growth rate (λ) by improving demographic rates during a life-stage for which some form of captivity is a viable option, and preferably one to which λ is sensitive.
We discuss lessons learned from the recent use of this approach as a conservation tool for shorebirds. In the case of the arctic breeding migrant Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea, headstarting was used to re-inforce a rapidly declining population. The intervention did not directly address the cause of decline - which was in fact related to low survival in post-fledging life-stages, rather than low productivity. Instead, the intention was to 'buy time', reducing the probability that the population went to extinction during the time-lag before conservation measures on the flyway took effect. In the second case-study, Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa were headstarted in the UK, to accelerate recovery of a critically small population. The population in question had underlying positive growth, but was small and the annual increase relatively modest, such that recovery was projected to be very slow.
We use population models and cost estimates to consider the circumstances in which headstarting of bird populations may be a favoured option compared to alternative interventions.
1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6162, Australia
Restoration ecology and reintroduction
Restoration and reintroduction can be regarded as two complementary tools in the endeavor to conserve the world's biodiversity and maintain functioning ecosystems. It is only recently that the links between these two activities have been made more apparent - however, there is much to be gained from examining the areas of overlap and synergy. Moving species from one place to another, whether this is classed as reintroduction or some other form of assisted movement, requires that the habitat into which the species is being moved is likely to sustain a viable population of the moved species. In the case of reintroduction, this should mean treating the causes of the species' decline in its former range, which often involves threat abatement and/or habitat modification. Hence restoration activities, broadly defined, need to be an integral part of reintroductions. On the flip side, reintroducing key species, such as top predators and ecosystem engineers, can have cascading effects in ecosystems that restore former patterns and processes much more efficiently than other more traditional forms of restoration. Increasing numbers of examples illustrate the potential for species movement to play an important role in large scale restoration. I explore these synergies and the opportunities and potential pitfalls involved, using a range of examples from different parts of the world.
Carolyn J Hogg(1), Catherine E Grueber(1), Kathy Belov(1)
1. University of Sydney
The future is here - the benefits of genetic tools in translocations!
Since the publication of the human genome in 2001, the development of genetic and genomic tools for conservation management have come forward in leaps and bounds. While genetic data used to be considered an academic "nice to have", it is fast becoming an essential item in the translocation of endangered species. IUCN guidelines recommend that translocations should occur when the threatening process has been reduced or removed. However, when infectious diseases are a threatening process, alternative management strategies are required. We will show how genetic data have informed the translocation of two of Australia's most endangered species, Tasmanian devils and orange-bellied parrots (OBP), in the presence of infectious diseases. Devil facial tumour disease has decimated populations by 77% over the past 20 years. Modelling indicates that this genetically depauperate species will succumb to small population pressures, such as inbreeding depression, if augmentation of wild populations do not occur. The OBP wild population consists of 15 individuals, which is augmented on an annual basis. This species suffers from beak and feather virus as well as Psuedomonas. Since 2011, we have implemented a strict genetic and demographic management strategy for both OBPs and devils, both in the wild and in captivity. Our strategy is directly informed by molecular genetics. We will describe the benefits, our successes and our failures in using cost-effective genetic tools in the augmentation of wild populations of two iconic native Australian species.
Paige Howorth(1), Spring Strahm(2)
1. San Diego Zoo Global
2. Conservation Biology Institute
The boom and bust butterfly: finding a way for the Quino checkerspot
First listed as federally endangered in 1997, the Quino checkerspot butterfly continues to face numerous threats to sustainability, including climate change and habitat loss. Its population abundance in times of adequate rainfall and virtual disappearance amid drought conditions-an increasingly new "normal" for its Southern California habitat-have challenged recovery strategies for decades.
San Diego Zoo Global and Conservation Biology Institute joined with Creekside Science and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2013 to create a captive rearing and monitoring program for potential reintroductions of this elusive San Diego native. Given the unique biology of the Quino checkerspot butterfly and its scarcity during the drought of 2012-2015, the program required flexibility and innovation from the start.
To guide our work, we sought to answer the following questions: what is the best strategy for rearing large numbers of larvae, and how can we provide the most honest signals in a laboratory environment? What is the best life stage for the release of this butterfly, and what methods will we employ for release and monitoring? Finally, upon release, how do we measure success and plan for the future, given the natural variability of the butterfly's populations?
After two successive years of releases, more than 6,600 larvae and a multitude of changes along the way, we have some unexpected answers that show promise for the recovery of this resilient butterfly.
David S. Jachowski(1)
1. Clemson University
Improving success in working reintroduction landscapes: How changing socio-political dynamics support multi-species restoration in the Northern Great Plains
Reintroduction biology, a field and profession largely created by biologists, has traditionally had a strong ecological background. While the importance of having an understanding of social science and governance has often been in the subtext of all reintroduction decision making, only recently has it been explicitly accounted for in reintroduction planning and coordination. Over the past 100 years, and particularly in the past 30, the Northern Great Plains of North America has been the focus on wide-scale wildlife restoration efforts on species ranging from bighorn sheep and bison, to black-footed ferrets and prairie dogs. Taking a longitudinal perspective on how these recovery efforts have unfolded in this underappreciated crucible for reintroduction biology can shed light on the interactive and complex ways in which changing socio-political dynamics can influence reintroduction planning and success. In particular, a recent change in the socio-political structure in this system (e.g., new stakeholders, incentives, motivations, and governance) is changing the reintroduction approach away from government-sponsored single species reintroduction approaches, to collaborative, multi-stakeholder multispecies restoration initiatives. Lessons learned from this rapidly evolving framework for advancing multi-species reintroduction offers key insights into how typically controversial wildlife reintroductions can potentially be enhanced in similar multi-stakeholder or "working" landscapes globally.
Ignacio Jiménez Pérez(1)
1. The Conservation Land Trust Argentina
Achieving political and social support for reintroductions: a communications framework
Success in translocations depends on having enough good-quality habitat, accessing sufficient animals for release, carrying out the needed releases, post-release monitoring, managing threats facing the reestablished population, and building a professional team that can handle these interdisciplinary tasks. In all projects most of the tasks will rely on direct support from key groups having enough influence to stop or derail any translocation effort. Among these groups are wildlife authorities (i.e. politicians and civil servants), conservationists and their academic peers, neighbors and landowners, big businesses, the general public and donors. The best way to achieve support from these groups relies on using different communication tools, messages, and messengers for each of them, which should include a combination of cognitive and emotional approaches. Communication tools can be as diverse as person-to-person conversations, films, social networks, websites, books, presentations, meetings with journalists, technical reports, scientific articles, newsletters, etc. All these tools should convey an inspirational story that considers the interests and myths of groups that have a direct effect on translocation success. In order to train and empower our translocation teams we must promote practice-based learning based on exchanges with similar projects, and from the continuous monitoring and evaluation of our own actions. Finally, due to their positive message of restoration, translocation efforts have great potential to inspire society and promote a wider biodiversity conservation agenda, so long as they can show real results that are communicated in a proactive and inclusive manner.
1. Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park
Orange-bellied parrot: breeding for recovery
The Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) is a Critically Endangered parrot endemic to southeastern Australia. The species is notable as one of only two migrating parrot species. With only 18 birds in the wild last September, the survival of the species is now almost totally dependent on a captive breeding program and associated release projects.
Moonlit Sanctuary joined the recovery program in 2012, initially with a handful of older birds in a display aviary. Since then Moonlit Sanctuary's role has grown to become a major participant in the captive breeding program: 45 birds fledged during the 2017-18 breeding season; winter release of adults on the mainland, spring release at the breeding grounds in Tasmania and autumn fledgling release in Tasmania. This year Moonlit helped initiate the new ranching project, whereby some birds are removed from the wild after the breeding season, kept in captivity over winter, and with plans to release into the wild again in spring. In 2017 Moonlit Sanctuary was awarded the Victorian Premier's Sustainability Award for Environmental Protection for our orange-bellied parrot breeding program.
The poster presentation tells how Moonlit Sanctuary, a small independent and self-funded organization, established a significant breeding program in conjunction with partners in the Recovery Team. It also discusses problems encountered and the various release and reintroduction projects underway to reverse the decline of these birds in the wild.
1. Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Restoring lost and damaged island ecosystems, the role of reintroductions
Island ecosystems are among the most damaged, with high rates of extinction. We draw upon four decades of experience of working on Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, where we have been restoring systems and reactivating lost ecological interactions. We have reintroduced, or translocated, seven native or endemic species of land-birds, five seabirds, seven reptiles, and over a hundred and fifty species of plants. These have been used to rebuild ecosystems on the main islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, and on smaller off-shore islands. We discuss how reintroductions have become a major driver for this work. We discuss the challenges in restoring systems in which there ae missing species and the potential value of ecological replacements. The extinction of endemic tortoises has left unfulfilled ecological interactions that we are correcting by using Aldabra Tortoises which are restoring the largely lost grazing climax plant community that is rich in endemic plants.
Holly P. Jones(1), Nicholas A. Barber(1), Wesley D. Swingley(1), Ryan C. Blackburn(1), Kirstie Savage(1), Nick Steijn(1), Sheryl Hosler(1), Anna Farrell(1), Heather Herakovich(1)
1. Northern Illinois University, Department of Biological Sciences and Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability, and Energy. DeKalb, IL 60115
Reintroduced bison impacts on plants and animals in a world-class prairie restoration
Tallgrass prairie is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, having contracted 80-90% due to agriculture and urbanization. Illinois is The Prairie State but has lost 99.99% of its prairie. However, there has been excellent progress in restoring prairie ecosystems and one of Illinois' most successful prairie restorations is Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL. Managers use a variety of management techniques including employing disturbance regimes of fire and grazing to maintain high-quality tallgrass prairie at Nachusa. Bison were reintroduced in 2014 and although research has shown how bison impact remnant - never plowed - prairie, it is unclear how bison will impact a restored prairie that is actively going through community assembly. This research addresses how reintroduced bison have impacted flora and fauna at Nachusa Grasslands. Specifically, we show that bison diet, as revealed through stable isotope analysis, changes seasonally with a shift from C4 to wetland plant reliance. We find soil microbes were distinct across prairie ages but then homogenized after bison reintroduction. Plant communities shift with time since restoration but aren't impacted by bison. Dung decomposition and dung beetle abundance increase with bison.
Small mammal communities and in grassland bird nesting survivorship are unimpacted by bison in the first few years of their introduction. Our data can help other prairie restorations that seek to reintroduce bison predict their potential impacts to a wide swath of prairie food web members.
Leah Kemp(1), John Kanowski(1), David Roshier(1), Rod Kavanagh(1), Wayne Boardman(1)
1. AWC, University of Adelaide
Multi-species, multi-site - opportunities, limitations and challenges in threatened fauna reintroductions programs
Australia has the highest recent mammal extinction rate in the world due to the interacting effects of introduced feral predators and herbivores, land clearing and changed fire regimes. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) has established and manages the largest feral-free conservation-fenced areas and reintroduction/restoration projects on mainland Australia. Currently, three new major projects are occurring simultaneously across south-east and central Australia. These will establish approximately 85,000ha of conservation-fenced land. This will involve the translocation of up to 18 species across the three new projects, with the aim of rebuilding the faunal assemblage that once occurred in these areas.
While IUCN guidelines and translocation templates are well established to assist fauna translocation programs for single species reintroductions, multi-species, multi-site programs occurring simultaneously pose another level of complexity. These complexities include: securing sufficient source stock of an ideal genetic founder composition to build populations rapidly; consideration of disease risks associated with mixing species and release cohorts to/from different sources and recipient sites; jurisdiction regulation restrictions across states, seasonal limitations on access to land; population fluctuations of source populations; programming the timing and release sequence of species to facilitate establishment and monitoring feasibility; selecting success criteria based on feasible monitoring, and; using the opportunity to inform future translocations, given limitations in logistical and monitoring capacity. Here we present the scope of AWC's reintroduction proposals in Australia, the challenges involved, and the measures being taken to ensure the successful establishment of fauna assemblages that reflect those that occurred at each of the three sites.
1. Aspinall Foundation
Can captive zoo populations play a role in primate reintroductions?
One of the roles of zoos is to breed species in captivity for potential release into the wild. However when opportunities arise for releasing captive animals, there can often be a lack of consensus within the zoo community about the justification for providing animals as founder stock for reintroduction or other translocation projects. I will draw on two decades of experience within various primate conservation, reintroduction and reinforcement projects to highlight reasons why the zoo community might contain conflicting views of primate translocation projects, and to provide evidence from extensive post-release monitoring of four primate species (western lowland gorillas, Javan gibbons, ebony langurs and grizzled langurs) that can aid future collaborative decision-making.
Tony King(1), Amos Courage(1)
1. Aspinall Foundation
Restoring the megafauna of the Batéké Plateau in Congo and Gabon: progress and opportunities
The Batéké Plateau region of Congo and Gabon in Central Africa is probably the first major wilderness area where western lowland gorillas have been driven to extinction. The Aspinall Foundation has been reintroducing gorillas here for over twenty years. Over 50 wild-born orphan gorillas rescued from the illegal bush-meat trade have been released, as have a smaller number of gorillas transported from the Howletts and Port Lympne wild animal parks in the UK. The two reintroduced gorilla populations are now well established, with over thirty births recorded in the past ten years. However the gorilla is not the only species to have been lost from the Batéké Plateau. In an ambitious expansion of the ongoing programme we are currently embarking on a new multi-species approach to restoring the large mammal community, or "megafauna" as we are marketing it. Chimpanzees and mandrills should soon be released in the gallery forests, while we hope the surprising recent discoveries of a male lion and a lone spotted hyena, the first records for the region in 20 years, will facilitate the return of several lost species to the unique and isolated Batéké savannahs - not only lions and hyenas but with time waterbuck, reedbuck, and hunting dogs. We look back at two decades of progress, and forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Blake Klocke(1), Brian Gratwicke(1), Roberto Ibáñez(1), Jorge Guerrel(1), Orlando Ariel Garćes(1), Elliot Lassiter(1), Heidi Ross(1)
1. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Reintroduction efforts for two species of Panamanian Harlequin frogs (Atelopus sp.) threatened by amphibian chytrid fungus
The emergence of the amphibian chytrid fungus in Panama resulted in catastrophic population declines or extinction in the six species of Atelopus that occur within the country. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is an ex-situ captive breeding project that was established to prevent the extinction of the most susceptible Panamanian amphibians. Captive assurance populations of five Atelopus spp. (Atelopus certus, Atelopus glyphus, Atelopus limosus, Atelopus varius, and Atelopus zeteki) have been successfully maintained and bred in Panama. Release trials with captive bred F1 individuals of two species, Atelopus limosus and Atelopus varius, were completed to understand dispersal patterns, survivorship, susceptibility to chytrid, and increase efficacy of future reintroductions. We equipped several adult A. limosus and A. varius from each release trial with VHF radio transmitters to track daily movements and obtain weekly weight measurements and determine chytrid status. We attempted mark and recapture surveys with animals that did not have a radio transmitter with limited success. Understanding disease dynamics in relation to climatic variables and how the introduction of susceptible individuals would affect the prevalence of amphibian chytrid in the existing amphibian community were priority questions in need of answering. These initial efforts will guide the development of reintroduction strategies in the presence of the pathogen driving the declines of Panamanian amphibians.
Ox Lennon(1), H.U. Wittmer(1), N.J. Nelson(1)
1. Victoria University of Wellington
Mitigation translocations as an opportunity for conservation
Habitat loss and degradation are having adverse effects on wildlife worldwide. Conservation translocations, including reintroductions, have increasingly been used in restoring declining or extirpated populations. However, mitigation translocations, which move wildlife away from development sites, are in many countries more numerous and better-funded than either conservation or research translocations. Furthermore, mitigation translocations may be carried out to fulfil regulatory requirements rather than to provide conservation benefit. My aim is to determine whether mitigation translocations can be used to meet conservation goals. I collaborated on a mitigation translocation of endemic lizards at a major road construction in New Zealand, along with collaborators from the private and state sectors and indigenous stakeholders. Lizards were salvaged over several years and released, and monitoring is underway to compare outcomes to established benchmarks for conservation translocation success. Low numbers of individuals salvaged, changing dates, and deviations from management plans have hindered the pre-release phases of this project, leading to a released population with uncertain population viability. Contracted ecologists are well aware of conservation best practices, but often lack a mandate to implement these in mitigation translocations, due in part to the differences between mitigation and conservation goals. Collaborative mitigation translocations represent a huge opportunity for conservation and restoration due to their increasing prevalence and the opportunity to access a different stream of funding. However, we need to ask the question: are mitigation translocations worth the current investment, or would it be better, when circumstances permit, to focus on prioritized conservation areas?
Loïc Lesobre(1), Yves Hingrat(1), Frédéric Lacroix(1)
1. Reneco International Wildlife Consultants, LLC
Houbara bustard species (Chlamydotis sp.) conservation breeding programmes: review of their genetic management, challenges and perspectives
Conservation Breeding Programme first aims to "maintain ex-situ populations to help the conservation of a threatened taxon, its genetic diversity, and its habitat". In terms of genetic management, this entails capturing the genetic diversity of wild populations, ensuring its efficient transfer to the captive population while maintaining it through the prevention of loss of genetic diversity, inbreeding and adaptation to captivity. Second, it aims to produce surplus compatible with translocation purposes, both in terms of genetic and numbers. However, translocations often require producing large numbers of individuals which are often considered as incompatible with the application of strict genetic guidelines, though achievement of large scale conservation breeding remain poorly documented. Here we present a long-term review of the genetic management progresses, challenges and perspectives of four large scale Conservation Breeding Programmes of Houbara bustard presenting differences in conservation status of populations, behaviour (resident vs. migratory) and translocation objectives. In 2017, these breeding programmes were housing between 2000 and 13250 adult breeders while the number of chicks hatched ranged from 1790 to 34500. Although our results in terms of founders' contribution, gene diversity or inbreeding emphasize the importance of pedigree and genetic management, they highlight the importance of implementing ex-situ conservation early enough 1) to effectively capture the genetic diversity of targeted populations, including rare alleles that constitutes the drivers of adaptation, and 2) to accommodate for the development of the required zootechnical knowledge to be able to transfer and maintain efficiently this genetic diversity on the long term.
Travis M. Livieri(1), Marc R. Matchett(2), Paul E. Marinari(3), Rachel M. Santymire(4), Dean E. Biggins(5)
1. Prairie Wildlife Research
2. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
3. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
4. Lincoln Park Zoo
5. U.S. Geological Survey
Thirty years of black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) recovery: balancing conservation and science
The black-footed ferret (BFF) program has persevered through extreme habitat loss, political battles, bottlenecked population, introduced disease, human-wildlife conflict and obligate carnivore limitations. The progress of the program is due to its integration of science into management that has been ongoing for 30+years. Three research areas that contributed to this progress were preconditioning for reintroduction, assisted reproductive technology (ART) and disease mitigation. All BFFs experience a preconditioning period where they learn to live outside in prairie dog burrows and are given the opportunity to kill and eat live prairie dogs. Post-release survival rates increased 10-fold when BFFs were preconditioned. Since the late 1980's, scientists have been using ART, including semen collection, evaluation and cryopreservation and artificial insemination (AI), to ensure the long-term maintenance of genetic diversity. To date, 149 BFFs have been produced through AI from males who had not sired. Finally, the BFF recovery program has invested heavily into disease mitigation for canine distemper virus and sylvatic plague. Vaccines for both diseases have been developed for BFFs and a bait vaccine for plague is currently being tested in the field for prairie dogs. To successfully reintroduce the BFF, the program involves a diverse group of partnerships from private landowners, the public, non-profit agencies, zoos, several federal and state agencies and native peoples. The BFF program is a model for other reintroduction programs because it has managed to balance science and management without impeding recovery progress and is committed to using science to inform our conservation actions into the future.
Natasha A. Lloyd(1), Nathan J. Hostetter(2), Cheyney L. Jackson(3), Sarah J. Converse(4), Axel Moehrenschlager(1)
1. Centre for Conservation Research, Calgary Zoological Society, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
2. U.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Maryland, USA
3. Marmot Recovery Foundation, British Columbia, Canada
4. U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) & School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS), University of Washington, Washington, USA
Optimizing release strategies: a stepping-stone approach to reintroduction
Evaluation of alternative release strategies enables informed management decisions to accelerate species recovery. For reintroductions, post-release survival to reproductive age is a key parameter influencing population growth. Here we trial a 'stepping-stone' method to maximize the success of captive-born animals when the availability of more suitable wild-born release candidates is limited. Our approach makes use of relatively safe and established wild populations to acclimatize captive-bred individuals prior to translocation to a final release destination, thus building resilience through establishment of multiple populations over time. We developed an innovative hierarchical multievent mark-recapture-recovery model integrating encounter history data and supplementary biotelemetry data to evaluate reintroduction strategies for the critically endangered Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis). We compared post-release survival of 175 individuals (52 wild-born, 47 captive-born marmots released directly to destination populations, and 76 captive-born marmots released with a stepping-stone approach). Our analysis indicates that post-release survival varies by source population and release method, as well as age, season, year, and years since release. Conditional on an objective of maximizing survival to prime breeding-age, our results suggest that using wild-born marmots for translocations as often as possible, and stepping-stone captive-born marmots prior to final release, will result in the best outcomes. Indeed, survival to prime breeding-age in the wild was nearly three times greater for captive-bred marmots released using a stepping-stone approach than for captive-bred individuals that were directly released to destination sites. Optimizing the combination of release candidates, sites, and timing can thereby increase the effectiveness of reintroductions.
Kim Lovich(1), Steve Anstey(2), Jone Niukula(3), Robert Fisher(4), Sia Rosalato(2), Adam G. Clause(5), Nunia Thomas-Moko(6)
1. San Diego Zoo Global, San Diego, USA
2. Ahura Resorts, Nadi, Fiji
3. National Trust of Fiji, Suva, Fiji
4. United States Geological Survey, San Diego, USA
5. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, USA
6. Nature Fiji-Mareqeti Viti, Suva, Fiji
Conservation of Fijian crested iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis) on Malolo Levu Island through collaborative international partnerships
The Melanesian iguanas of the genus Brachylophus represent a highly threatened group of four described living species native to the Fiji Islands. Available genetic and morphological evidence suggests the existence of undescribed Brachylophus species in the northern and eastern islands of the Fiji, and additional western populations require further characterization as to species status. Most western isolates are currently assigned to the Fijian Crested Iguana, Brachylophus vitiensis, which is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Several remnant, recently rediscovered populations of B. vitiensis on Malolo Levu Island are severely imperiled due to wildfires and invasive mammalian predators, which has motivated substantial recent recovery work. Here, we discuss the contributions that each partner has brought to this recovery program under the umbrella of the IUCN SSC's Iguana Specialist Group. Our approach has been multifaceted, involving a unique collaborative team that includes members from the zoological, academic, government, NGO, and tourism sectors. A centerpiece of the program on Malolo Levu Island is an on-site iguana captive breeding and headstart project, which successfully produced its first offspring in 2017. Intensive local mitigation of non-native mammalian predators is also ongoing, together with protection of some wild iguana populations from wildfires. Multi-year monitoring has revealed a recent surge of wild juvenile recruitment, likely in response to these protections. Innovative restoration of the tropical dry forest habitat on which the iguanas depend has also seen remarkable progress. We offer our story as a model of the success possible for cooperative conservation in an international context.
1. United States Fish and Wildlife Service, State Agencies, Comision Nacional De Areas Naturales Protegidas, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Peregrine Fund and and Ventana Wildlife Society
California condor - back from the brink of extinction
The California condor is one of North America's most iconic species. In 1982 the condors faced extinction when there were only 22 remaining in the world. After continuous debates regarding the dilemma of allowing the condor to go extinct or save it, the USFWS partnered with San Diego Zoo Global and Los Angeles Zoo to save the condor. In 1987 the remaining condors were removed from the wild and for the first time in 10,000 years extinct in the wild. The program began to expand to other zoos and NGO's. The condors produced within Association of Zoos and Aquariums were released back into the wild and a full recovery program was underway. There have been anticipated and unforeseen challenges to save the condor. Many lessons have been learned that now apply to saving other endangered species. The condor serves an important ecological role and losing it to extinction would have had catastrophic effects. Today there are more than 450 condors with 275 flying in the wild in California, Arizona, Utah and Baja California, Mexico. The program is a bi-national effort. The AZA coalition working closely with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, NGOs, including various Native American groups in California, Arizona, Utah, and Oregon have been committed for 35 years and more than $40,000,000 to save the condor from extinction. The California condor program is one of the most collaborative and comprehensive in history. This iconic species serves as globally recognized model for international species conservation.
Thomas Maloney(1), Ben Novak(1)
1. Revive & Restore
Genetic rescue of black-footed ferret from conservation reliance
A species is conservation reliant when the threats that it faces cannot be eliminated, only managed. There are two forms of conservation reliance: population-management and threat-management reliance. The black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) represents a re-introduced species that is currently reliant on conservation management. Fortunately, recent advances in biotechnology enable conservation interventions that provide potential strategies to move the black-footed ferret into a more sustained recovery status. Proposed work by Revive & Restore on the black-footed ferret will illustrate the possibilities to move species into a more sustained state of recovery. The proposed work addresses population-related conservation reliance by attempting to increase allelic diversity (thereby reversing in-breeding depression) by cloning two non-founder cell lines from the original re-discovered Wyoming population stored at the San Diego Frozen Zoo. Additionally, Revive & Restore and its partners propose to address threat-related conservation reliance by attempting to convey heritable disease resistance to the fatal non-native disease sylvatic plague (Yersinia pestis) through a process known as vectored immuno-prophylaxis. The author will present and discuss the broader applicability of these tools as well as the social, ethical and regulatory implications. Ultimately, successful responses to factors of conservation reliance may enable a de-listing from protected status. This may provide expanded opportunities for a broader spectrum of federal, state, tribal, and private interests to participate in conservation.
Tanya Martinez(1), David Logue(1)
1. Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
Captive breeding and dialect formation in the Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata)
Mitigating the effects behavioral changes is a concern for many captive breeding and reintroduction programs. Culturally transmitted behaviors, such as learned vocal signals, are particularly prone to change because captive animals have limited opportunities to learn behaviors from wild animals. Changes in learned behavior could affect the success of reintroduction programs once captive animals are released into the wild. We tested for vocal divergence of learned calls in Puerto Rican Parrots (Amazona vittata). We recorded parrots from two captive populations and two wild populations, representing all extant populations of this species. We also recorded parrots that had been translocated between populations and evaluated their vocal changes over time. Fine-scale acoustic analysis revealed discrete vocal dialects in all four populations. This cultural evolution took place over a time span of ten to 40 years, demonstrating that dialects can evolve rapidly in managed parrot populations. Captive parrots that had frequent vocal interaction with wild parrots produced calls that were similar to wild parrot calls. Most parrots that were translocated between populations adopted the new dialect, but the time to adopt the new dialect varied among individuals. The emergence of dialects in this species likely resulted from a combination of historical rearing practices, cultural drift, and geographic separation. Managers in reintroduction programs for vocal learning species should consider strategies to facilitate the acquisition of foreign vocal signals prior to release. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first record of vocal dialect formation resulting from captive breeding practices.
Bryce Masuda(1), Alison Greggor(1), Susan Farabaugh(1), Ron Swaisgood(1)
1. San Diego Zoo Global
Reintroduction of the 'Alalā, or Hawaiian crow (Corvus hawaiiensis)
The critically endangered 'Alalā, or Hawaiian Crow, were once widespread on Hawaii Island but went extinct in the wild in 2002. Since then, successful conservation breeding efforts have increased the population from less than 20 birds to more than 125 individuals. As a result, reintroduction attempts were initiated in late 2016 to restore this species back to its native forest habitat. We discuss soft release techniques used, as well as post-release monitoring and support conducted to facilitate the transition of the 'Alalā from a captive to wild environment. Post-release monitoring includes in-person observations, remote camera observations at supplemental feeding stations, and VHF radio telemetry tracking. We share our field observations of movements, foraging behavior, and general activity of the released 'Alalā, including observations of interactions between the 'Alalā and their only endemic predator: 'Io. We also discuss how releases conducted thus far have informed and guided future release efforts for Hawaii's only remaining endemic corvid.
1. Guam Department of Agriculture - DAWR
Applying lessons learned from releasing Ko'ko' (Guam Rail, Hypotaenidia owstonia) to upcoming Sihek (Micronesian Kingfisher, Todiramphus cinnamominus) releases
Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR), in conjunction with AZA zoos, has an ongoing recovery program for the ko'ko' spanning over 30 years. Captive breeding began with 22 wild-caught birds in the mid-1980s, with releases of captive-bred birds shortly thereafter in 1989. Biologists started the program with little to no natural history known of the ko'ko' prior to its extinction in the wild. Initial success at breeding wild birds was short-lived as captive-bred birds proved difficult. It was over 15 years before biologists began to understand how to address the difficult behavior of captive-bred birds as well as determine the best method for pair selection that fulfills the needs of both captive breeding and release components. At the same time DAWR was tackling challenges with captive breeding, the release program began. It took many years and as many releases to determine habitat requirements needed to ensure release birds have the best chance possible for success in the environments they are released. Methods were dependent on results of previous releases as well as the behavior of released birds. At times, key findings, such as the behavior exhibited by one bird, were overlooked until such incidents were repeated years later. With 30 years of experience, DAWR will use lessons learned from the ko'ko' project to minimize risk when sihek releases begin. This presentation covers the strategy used for the ko'ko' and how it will be applied to sihek captive breeding and releases.
Jean-Baptiste Mihoub(1), Nina King-Gillies(1), Cécile Tréhin(1), Nastasia Faure-Michaels(1), Christian Kerbiriou(1), François Sarrazin(1)
1. UMR 7204 CESCO, MNHN-CNRS-SU
Assessing progress toward success of local reintroductions within a metapopulation: the example of the bearded vulture restoration in Southern France
Criteria based on long-term population viability have been recently suggested to assess the success of local reintroduction programs. Nevertheless, evaluating progress toward success remain challenging, especially for long-lived species. Besides, it is unclear how the proposed criteria could be applied when reintroductions aim at restoring a metapopulation dynamic between isolated remnant populations, since it implies between population movements of individuals that can increase the risk of local reintroduction failure and / or interfere with the of three main phases of reintroduced population dynamics i.e. establishment, growth and regulation. The LIFE Gypconnect project offers a unique opportunity to address this issue since its main objective consists in connecting the native population of Bearded vultures (Gypaetus Barbatus) in the French Pyrenees with the local populations reintroduced in the Alps since the 80's by establishing newly reintroduced populations in between. Although the reintroductions started in 2010 with 30 individuals released in three sites up to 2017, interim assessments are required both to measure progress toward the ultimate goals of the project and eventually, to evaluate whether and how adjusting the reintroduction strategy would be necessary. Therefore, a substantial part of the project focuses on a priori developing a relevant set of indicators of progress at various temporal and spatial scales. These indicators primarily target demographic components of population viability at both local population and metapopulation scales and would be compared to the data regularly obtained from the monitoring of released individuals and following generations as the project will go on.
Karl E. Miller(1), Alexis Cardas(1), Jay Garcia(2), Ralph Risch(3)
1. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
2. USDA Forest Service
3. Florida Forest Service
Testing assumptions about Florida scrub-jay translocation
Translocation of the threatened Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens; hereafter FLSJ) has been proposed as a strategy to maintain landscape connectivity, to assist populations in recolonizing suitable habitat, and to preserve genetic diversity. The few translocations that have occurred to date mostly involved small, nonviable populations located on private lands with federal incidental take permits. We are conducting research to evaluate assumptions about FLSJ translocation on conservation lands and its impact on source populations and recipient populations. During January 2017 - February 2018, we translocated 26 individuals from Ocala National Forest, including 8 family groups (18 individuals) moved to Seminole State Forest and 8 nonbreeding individuals moved to Rock Springs Run State Reserve. We found no evidence that "soft" release (i.e., housing the birds in an acclimation cage for 1-2 days at the recipient site pre-release) offered any short-term or long-term benefits over "hard" release (i.e., directly releasing the birds without an acclimation period). Short-term success with family groups was 100%, as all settled near their release site and quickly established breeding territories. Apparent survival rates for translocated adults and resident adults did not differ. In addition, some of the nonbreeding "helpers" that we moved paired up and established territories despite their lack of previous breeding experience. Many of these findings contradict previous assumptions about FLSJ translocations, which were based on limited data. Continued research in conjunction with ongoing translocations will determine the longer-term impacts of these manipulations on FLSJ demographics at recipient sites. Experiments planned for 2019-2020 are discussed.
Axel Moehrenschlager(1), Natasha Lloyd(1)
1. Centre for Conservation Research, Calgary Zoological Society, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Future opportunities for conservation translocation actions around the globe
The use of conservation translocations has increased exponentially, and regional policy documents suggest that such trends will continue. Reinforcements are generally as numerous as reintroductions, while ecological replacements and assisted colonizations are on the rise across taxa. The desire to move species for apparent benefit is continuing to push conceptual boundaries as mitigation translocation, rewilding, and de-extinction increasingly cross the conservation translocation space. Are such issues distractions or opportunities for meaningful action? Moreover, recent evidence suggests that releases from conservation breeding programs in zoos and aquaria are relatively rare, and better strategic alignment could yield increased opportunities to aid wild populations in need. While thousands of species are confiscated or rehabilitated around the globe, and while most are likely unsuitable for conservation translocation programs, potential synergy in some cases might yield yet unexplored benefits. North America, Europe, and Oceania are apparently most active in conservation translocations, but untapped potential may be especially promising in other biodiverse countries where this tool could help but is underutilized. Increasing evidence of success signals to political decision makers, investors, and the general public that support for science-based conservation translocation action should increase to help meet international commitments for biodiversity and humanity.
Katherine Moseby(1), Hugh Bannister(1), Melissa Jensen(2), Rebecca West(2)
2. Arid Recovery
Does individual variation in physical or behavioural traits significantly affect reintroduction success?
Many factors influence reintroduction success including habitat quality, the presence of introduced predators, source populations and release protocols. More recently, the individual behavioural traits of release animals have been shown to influence reintroduction outcomes. But how important are the physical and behavioural traits of individuals in reintroduction programs? We measured the physical and/or behavioural traits of released individuals from a range of threatened species and compared them with post-release parameters including survival and movement. Importantly we also measured individual variation in the physical traits of a resident exotic predator and compared them with predation rates on reintroduced prey. Results suggest that whilst behavioural traits of released animals did not affect survival, some physical traits significantly affected their chance of being killed by predators after release. In some cases these trends were consistent between different prey species. More importantly, individual variation in the hunting efficacy of resident predators had a real and significant impact on post release survival of reintroduced prey species. We present preliminary results for trials aiming to address the effects of individual traits on reintroduction success including toxic implants, grooming traps and selective breeding.
1. CNMI Division of Fish and Wildlife, Pacific Bird Conservation
Multi-species translocation efforts as a conservation tool against introduced predator threats
The brown tree snake has been responsible for the extinction or extirpation of nine species of native forest birds on Guam within the last half-century and has been identified as the single greatest threat to terrestrial ecosystems in the CNMI. Twelve endemic bird species and subspecies that occur in the CNMI could potentially become extinct if the snake is accidentally introduced to the inhabited islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. In response to this threat, biologists from the CNMI DFW, USFWS/WSFR, and Pacific Bird Conservation (PBC) developed an initiative using translocation to produce redundant populations of these endemic bird species on mostly-uninhabited islands. Since 2008, 100 bridled white-eye (BRWE), 74 golden white-eye (GOWE), 35 Mariana fruit-dove (MAFD), and 83 rufous fantail (RUFA) have been translocated to Sarigan and 100 Tinian monarch (TIMO), 98 BRWE, 24 MAFD, and 54 RUFA translocated to Guguan. To monitor long-term success, DFW biologists conducted post-translocation surveys on Sarigan in June 2016. Surveys were conducted at fifty point count stations located within native forest and scrubland/grassland habitats. Density for each species within each habitat type was estimated using detection functions derived in R using the Distance package. Populations (+/- SE) were estimated at 8,239 (6,197-10,955) for BRWE, 1,332 (932-1,903) for GOWE, 203 (154-268) for MAFD, and 2,471 (1,630-3,745) for RUFA. Based on observed population increases, Sarigan so far is an adequate target island for CNMI native birds. Continued monitoring in 5-year intervals and additional translocations to other target islands are scheduled to occur through 2032.
Mahamat Hassan Hacha(1), Justin Chuven(2), John Newby(3), Marc Dethier(3), Tim Wacher(4), Katherine Mertes(5)
1. Ministry of Environment (Chad)
2. Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi
3. Sahara Conservation Fund
4. Zoological Society of London
5. Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Restoring the mega-fauna of Chad's Sahel-Sahara ecosystem
In 2016, following a thorough preparatory phase, the Government of Chad and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), launched an ambitious project to reintroduce the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) into the wild. With the technical assistance of the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF), the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), pre-release facilities were established in the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve, the last place oryx could be found before their extirpation in the late 1980s. On arrival in Chad from Abu Dhabi, the oryx are held in captivity for a few months before release into the wild. The majority of animals are fitted with GPS/VHF collars and their movements monitored remotely and by local, ground-based teams. To date (January 2018) 72 adult oryx have been released and these have started to breed, producing so far, a total of 24 offspring, of which 18 have survived. In the coming years, a further 150-200 captive-bred oryx will be injected into the population. Encouraged by the results so far, the project partners plan on extending the program to include other critically endangered or threatened species - the addax (Addax nasomaculatus), the dama gazelle (Nanger dama) and the North African ostrich (Struthio camelus). The long-term goal of this unique initiative is to restore a viable, secure and free-ranging community of Sahel-Saharan species along with the habitat required for its survival.
Ben J. Novak(1)
1. Revive & Restore, The Great Passenger Pigeon Comeback
Restoring regenerative forest cycles in Eastern North America: the case for passenger pigeon de-extinction
It's widely recognized in forestry literature that, while forest cover increased extensively over the past century in eastern N. America, recovery of biodiversity has not followed; many animal and plant species are declining throughout eastern forests. Heterogenic oak-dominated disturbance forests of the Holocene are being replaced by maple-dominated, closed-canopy systems, which favor communities representing a subset of native biodiversity. The cause is a lack of consistent disturbance in forest ecosystems. Forest disturbance induces regeneration cycles, which in turn, increase forest heterogeneity. Forestry scientists assumed fire was the main agent that historically maintained disturbance/regeneration cycles by clearing the understory and causing canopy damage. To reproduce this process, current management strategies implement controlled burns and shelterwood treatments - processes difficult to scale to the needs of declining species. Still, without these interventions, it is expected that many species will become locally extinct in many regions, if not entirely throughout eastern woodlands. An additional and self-sustaining biological disturbance agent could be restored to achieve long-term forest conservation goals using paleogenomics, precise-hybridization, and reintroduction - i.e. de-extinction of the passenger pigeon. Historically, megaflocks of pigeons induced disturbances optimal for regeneration, clearing undergrowth (via guano deposition) and opening up the canopy (by collapsing branches from overcrowding). New research reveals these megaflocks persisted for tens of thousands of years, meaning that pigeons, moreso than fire, were the major historic source of consistent disturbance, making passenger pigeons the former ecological engineers of heterogeneous woodlands. Passenger pigeon de-extinction offers a means to restore ecological processes vital to forest resilience.
Bryony Palmer(1),(2), Leonie Valentine(1), Richard Hobbs(1)
1. University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
2. Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Perth, Australia
A digger's gotta dig: assessing the impacts of reintroducing digging mammals in Australia
Reintroductions are likely to impact the recipient ecosystem and its elements, but this is not always explicitly addressed in reintroduction planning and monitoring. Ecosystem impacts may be positive (e.g. the restoration of ecosystem services), but negative outcomes are also possible (e.g. competition with, or predation on, other species of concern). Ecosystem engineers, species that change resource availability for other organisms through physical alterations to their environment, are likely to have greater impacts. Digging mammals are considered to be ecosystem engineers because their digging activities provide shelter for other organisms and have significant effects on soil structure, nutrient content and water availability. Many Australian digging mammals have experienced dramatic declines and are threatened. As a result, these species have been the focus of many reintroduction programs. It has been suggested that, in addition to the conservation benefits, reintroducing these species may restore ecosystem processes. However, despite some understanding of their roles, information about the impacts of reintroducing digging mammals on recipient ecosystems is lacking. Here we review Australian digging mammal reintroductions to determine how often effects on recipient ecosystems were addressed in the program goals or predicted outcomes and whether these were then monitored. For programs that included some form of ecosystem monitoring, we investigate what effects the reintroduction had on the recipient ecosystem. Understanding how reintroductions affect ecosystems will help management agencies set priorities, make decisions on which species to include in reintroduction programs, and may help to explain or set into context observed changes to ecosystems and ecosystem elements.
Kevin A. Parker(1)
1. Parker Conservation and Massey University
Beyond single species - planning multi-species conservation translocations for ecological restoration
The history of conservation translocations is rooted in rescuing highly threatened species from the brink of extinction. Last minute translocation will remain an essential conservation tool but it is risky, expensive and best avoided wherever possible. Many conservation translocations now focus on building resilience through translocation before a species reaches the brink. An additional development is conservation translocations of species in lower or non-threatened categories. This is usually presented as ecological restoration but often includes equally important social and economic motivators. Every conservation translocation requires context to be successful and the best way to achieve this is through the development of a translocation plan at the site, regional or even national level. However, I suggest that greater conservation and restoration gains can be made by taking translocation plans beyond a single species focus and instead producing multi-species translocation plans. This provides a road map for single species recovery integrated with ecosystem restoration while engaging, exciting and motivating local communities. I demonstrate this concept, and how it can be enacted, with 12 recent examples from Aotearoa New Zealand, ranging from very small community based projects to very large institution driven projects. This approach is ambitious and challenging, especially at large scale, and requires genuine engagement and partnership at the local, regional, national and even international level. However, it provides a means to recover highly threatened species in a broader context, enrich local biodiversity through the return of missing species, regardless of threat status, and build resilience in a changing world.
Mickey R. Parker(1), Toby Hibbitts(1), Wade Ryberg(1), Lee A. Fitzgerald(1)
1. Texas A&M University
Preliminary results from a conservation translocation of dunes sagebrush lizards (Sceloporus arenicolus) in West Texas
The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) is a habitat specialist that is restricted to the shinnery oak and dune blowout formations in the Mescalero Sands of southeastern New Mexico and the Monahans Sandhills of west Texas. The species' high level of habitat specificity, coupled with its reluctance to cross roads, makes it unlikely that it can colonize new areas of habitat or repopulate areas that have experienced local extinctions. In 2016, we began a project examining translocation as a conservation strategy for the lizard. Prior to this study, Dunes Sagebrush Lizards had not been detected in Crane County, TX since 1970. During the breeding season (April-June), we collected 36 adults (24 female, 12 male) from nearby populations and translocated them to a site in Crane County with suitable habitat that is contiguous with the historical locality. We used a soft-release strategy, keeping the newly translocated individuals in six temporary enclosures constructed from Animex® wildlife fencing. After an acclimation period, we removed the enclosures and monitored the translocated population using a trapping grid of 519 pitfall traps. In 2017, we conducted another round of translocation at the site with 34 adults and 6 hatchlings. Gravid females successfully laid clutches in both years. We will continue monitoring the incipient population over the next two years to examine growth, survival, reproduction, and dispersal. Here we will present findings to date and discuss factors that will likely affect the dynamics of the incipient population.
Elizabeth H. Parlato(1), Doug P. Armstrong(1)
1. Wildlife Ecology Group, Massey University
Predicting reintroduction outcomes for highly vulnerable species using data from multiple sites and species
Predicting reintroduction outcomes before populations are released is inherently challenging. An even greater challenge exists when the species being considered for reintroduction no longer co-exists anywhere with the key threats present at the candidate site. However, data from other species facing the same threats can be used to make predictions under these circumstances. We present a modelling approach for predicting growth of a reintroduced population at a range of predator densities when no data are available for the species in the presence of that predator. North Island saddlebacks were extirpated from mainland New Zealand by introduced mammalian predators, particularly ship rats, but are now being considered for reintroduction to sites with intensive predator control. We first model data from previous saddleback reintroductions to predator-free sites to predict population growth at a new predator-free site. We then predict population growth at different rat tracking rates by incorporating a previously modelled relationship between rat tracking and vital rates of another predator-sensitive species (the North Island robin), and account for the greater vulnerability of saddlebacks to rat predation using information on historical declines of both species. Our results suggest that saddlebacks could be successfully reintroduced to mainland sites with very low rat densities. This approach allows population growth to be predicted as a function of management effort while accounting for uncertainty.
1. State of Montana/Turner Endangered Species Fund
Restoration science and politics: strange but necessary bedfellows
Modern societies are challenged by problems for which science and a conservation ethic offer clarity and solutions. We the people must accept that any conservation activity of worth must be a political act. The extinction crisis and other insults foisted upon Mother Earth are so pervasive, that nothing less than the world's greatest collective action will suffice as redress. Politics is the only scheme that can organize and advance such action. This is a simple but not a small idea. From issues as disparate as imperiled species conservation to energy policy, elected officials are expected to develop scholarship on scientific matters to support informed votes. Typically though, legislative bodies are bereft of members trained in the sciences. A lack of training in and disregard for science can create tension with political agendas. This leads to legislation that fails to redress the problem or makes matters worse. A greater emphasis on science and a conservation ethic would improve legislation for imperiled species and the legislative process by drawing attention to the precautionary principle, unequal usefulness of information, persistence of uncertainty, and the shortcomings of narrow perspectives for resolving problems characterized by complex spatial and temporal scales. Science and a conservation ethic would be more useful in governmental decision making if restoration ecologists and conservation biologists redoubled their involvement in the political process, including serving in elected office. This talk is a call to arms to use politics as an essential future action to promote peace, prosperity, and justice for all life.
Mark Stanley Price(1)
1. Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford, UK
Our future nature: will reintroduction play a constructive role in it?
Reintroductions, or at least releases, of plants and animals have seen explosive growth over the last few decades, which is to be celebrated. Conventionally, these actions are a reaction to restore missing components of pre-existing communities.
But, Nature, as communities and ecosystems, are facing profound change, as conventional threats intensify; in addition, the reality of climate change as both a direct threat and driver of further threats is increasingly evident, and appreciated to far greater extent than ten to 15 years ago.
Consequently, species are moving of their own accord, and novel ecosystems are a real prospect.
There are two fundamental objectives in conservation today. The first is the wish to maintain or enhance ecological processes or, from an anthropocentric position, 'ecosystem services'. The second is the long-established reality that botanic gardens and zoos cannot house all the species that will need guaranteed security against extinction in their wild habitats.
I will use this situation to suggest that true reintroduction success is elusive in a changing world, and that conservationists should move from reactive thinking and actions to being more predictive. This will require changes in attitudes, policies, and foci of attention. My talk will look at the potential for translocations outside indigenous range, in support of ecological processes and the continued existence of wild populations, touching on the issue of re-wilding as part of our future Nature.
Lea Randall(1), Richard A. Griffiths(2), Gemma Harding(2), Natasha Lloyd(1), Axel Moehrenschlager(1)
1. Calgary Zoological Society
2. University of Kent
Translocations as a tool to mitigate development impacts: conservation or cosmetic surgery for species at-risk?
Mitigation translocation involves moving animals that would otherwise be destroyed or negatively affected by development activities to an alternate release site. Mitigation translocations are conservation translocations if they benefit at-risk species or populations. The use of translocation as a mitigation measure for threatened amphibians and reptiles are increasing worldwide, but conservation targets are often not clear and risks to the target species can be high. The practice can result in injury, mortality, stress and exposure to pathogens and genetic risks for the translocated animals or animals at the release site. Little is known about the success of these types of translocations but success rates are often low, mainly due to dispersal from the release site or homing to the collection site, or because release sites lack suitable habitat to meet the needs of all life-stages. For these reasons, translocations should only occur when all other alternatives to avoid and minimize project impacts on the species are exhausted. Best management practices are needed to avoid mitigation translocations, and if translocation cannot be avoided, clearer guidance is required on how to plan, implement, and monitor translocations. We compare the logistical, political and conservation issues associated with mitigation translocations in the UK and Canada.
Steve Reichling(1), Craig Rudolph(2), Josh Pierce(2), Emlyn Smith(2), Drew Foster(3), Gordon Henley(4), Diane Barber(5)
1. Memphis Zoo
3. Phoenix Zoo
4. Ellen Trout Zoo
5. Ft. Worth Zoo
Pine snakes, pocket gophers, and politics
The Louisiana pine snake, Pituophis ruthveni, is an endemic species of the decimated longleaf pine ecosystem west of the Mississippi River. Today it persists on four tiny parcels of marginally suitable habitat, and ongoing research reveals a continuing rapid decline in all of these last populations. Therefore, conserving these sites and relict populations, alone, will not be sufficient to recover the species. In recent decades, the USFS has implemented active burning regimens and longleaf pine replanting programs, which have been very successful in returning degraded sites to longleaf forest. A golden opportunity is now at hand to repatriate these restored landscapes using captive-bred specimens. A Species Survival Plan® was implemented to manage the zoo population that had been established in 1984. Since 2010, a modest release program of surplus snakes has been underway in cooperation with the USFWS, USFS, and Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries. However, the reproductive rate of the captive population has been unable to supply the number of animals necessary to establish a self-sustaining in situ population. Monitoring data shows that released snakes are surviving, growing, and maintaining fidelity to the carefully selected release site, but the number released after seven years of continual effort (96) is not believed large enough to overcome natural mortality and build sufficient population density to enable reproduction. To bring this effort to the level of meeting the goals of the project, bold action to strengthen the captive component has been implemented.
Jessica L. Roberts(1), David Luther(1)
1. George Mason University
The use and effectiveness of behavior as a captive management tool for threatened species reintroduction
Captive breeding is an essential component for the recovery of many threatened species. However, studies have shown poor success rates for captive breeding-for-release programs in terms of survivorship, establishment, and ultimately creating self-sustaining populations. One method to improve the success of captive breeding programs is the integration of behavior-based management (BBM), which teaches wild behaviors to captive animals before their release. Without natural environments, stressors, or conspecific parents, poorly implemented captive breeding programs can result in individuals with maladapted behaviors unfit for survival in the wild. BBM rearing protocols can be adjusted to raise individuals with behaviors more akin to their wild conspecifics. To assess the use and success of BBM we created a peer-reviewed literature database for all terrestrial vertebrates listed under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species that had captive breeding and reintroduction as action in place for the species. From these papers, we collected relevant data on each species' captive environment, the presence or lack of BBM, reintroduction techniques, and monitoring after release. The aim of our study is to look for patterns in the literature that indicate what types of BBM are associated with reintroduction success (high post-release survivorship and reproduction), and what species or taxa, if any, are most likely to benefit from BBM. By identifying what techniques aid specific captive-raised species to survive in their post-release environment, reintroduction science will become more efficient and effective, saving money and time while still restoring endangered species.
Ana Carolina Rosas(1), Emanuel Galetto(1), Sebastian Di Martino(1), Magali Longo(1), Jorge Peña(1), Juan Pablo Vallejos(1), Talia Zamboni(1), Alicia Delgado(1), Gustavo Solis(1)
1. The Conservation Land Trust
Negative impact with use radio collar telemetry in Pecari tajacu reintroduction project, Corrientes, Argentina
In a collar peccary reintroduction a large number of factors need to be considered prior, during and after translocating individuals. Some of then affect post-release survival and therefore reintroduction success. In order to determine which factors influence, decide to apply or not in future reintroductions, intensive post release monitoring is required. Several authors and managers have proposed using radio collars telemetry for this specie. Nevertheless our team reported potential negative impacts using different type of radio collars for monitoring. The NGO The Conservation Land trust with the goal to restore a self sustaining population of collared peccaries in the Ibera Natural Reserve, has translocated 6 groups of peccaries, starting in 2015 with the first group. All the translocations were monitored. Of 51 reintroduced animals 37 had radio collar. 56,75 % of the animals registered problems linked to radio collar. 66,66 % of them reported a front limb hooked with the radio collar. The interventions were needed in 85,71 % the individuals with collar problems, to reduce the negative impact, unhook and heal the limbs and sometimes removing the collar. The monitoring in reintroductions projects are very important to evaluate the release success, learn lessons and applied to future reintroduction. In these case the radio collar telemetry can negatively affect the period of adaptation and the survival of Pecari tajacu individuals.
Typhaine Rousteau(1), Jean-Baptiste Mihoub(1), Olivier Duriez(2), François Sarrazin(1)
1. Centre d'Ecologie et des Sciences de la Conservation (CESCO UMR7204), Sorbonne Université, MNHN, CNRS, CP135, 43 rue Buffon, 75005, Paris, France
2. Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE UMR5175), Université de Montpellier, 1919 route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier cedex 5, France
Long-term assessment of survival, dispersal and nest site suitability in a network of reintroduced populations: Cinereous vultures in France
Post-release monitoring is necessary to assess reintroduction outcomes and to identify causes of failure to prioritize management actions adaptatively. Recently, Robert et al. (2015) proposed to assess the success of reintroduction programs through viability criteria only once the restored populations reach the regulation phase. However, program assessments are important well before the regulation phase could be reached, and it remains unclear whether and how these criteria could be applied to metapopulation restoration. The three reintroduction programs of cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) conducted in France during the last two decades represent an opportunity to assess reintroduction toward success criteria in a restored metapopulation context and while populations are still in the phase of either establishment or growth. Focusing on demographic assessments, we first estimated post-release survival while accounting for dispersal in the other release areas using multi-event and multi-site Capture-Mark-Recapture analysis from 283 life histories of marked individuals between 1992 and 2016. Then, we assessed a component of population regulation by evaluating the availability of suitable breeding habitats across the distribution range. Quantifying habitat suitability is needed for anticipating the carrying capacity to be expected in the regulation phase. We conducted habitat suitability analysis taking into account the presence of 125 nest sites identified between 1996 and 2017 in the three reintroduced populations and a set of 12 environmental variables at various scales. Our results provide essential information to assess project outcomes of the reintroduction projects with respect to the viability of the (meta)population.
Allison Sacerdote-Velat(1), Mary Beth Manjerovic(2), Rachel Santymire(3)
1. Chicago Academy of Sciences, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
2. Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, VA, 24450, USA
3. Davee Center for Epidemiology and Endocrinology, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
Using habitat restoration and innovation to recover threatened amphibian species in Illinois
Amphibians are the most endangered taxonomic group with one-third of known species facing extinction. In Midwestern US, habitat degradation and disease have threatened once-common species. A 2008 reintroduction effort for extirpated Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) successfully established a breeding population in a hydrologically restored site. Local restoration focus shifted to promoting oak recruitment via canopy gap management and invasive understory removal. As restoration progresses, we are examining: 1) reintroduced and resident amphibian demography and community response, 2) changes in incidence of the amphibian pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), and 3) stress levels. As habitat improves, we expect increased catch per unit effort (CPUE) and diversity, and decreased mean cortisol (CORT) levels and Bd incidence. Using photo mark-recapture, Bd swabs and a novel, innovative method to collect CORT via dermal swabs, we are sampling five restoration sites and one control site. Three sites had both gap and understory management, while two had only gap management. Gap and understory treatment sites had greater CPUE and diversity than gap-only sites. Wood Frog representation in the reintroduction site increased from 5.6% of the total catch in 2016 to 20% in 2017. Resident amphibian representation varied across species. Bd sample prevalence decreased from 17.5% in 2016 (n = 194) to 13% in 2017 (n = 313). Bd was detected in four of six sites, and in six of nine species in both years. CORT levels of each species were similar across sites, and management treatments, but Bd-postive Northern Leopard Frogs (Lithobates pipiens) had greater CORT levels.
François Sarrazin(1), S. Ferjani2,(3), A Morin(1), Charles Thevenin(1), Jean-Baptiste Mihoub(1), Alexandre Robert(1), B Colas(2)
1. CESCO (UMR 7204, MNHN, CNRS, SU)
2. ESE (UMR 8079, UPSud, CNRS, AgroParisTech)
3. BBEES (UMS 3468, CNRS, MNHN)
Sharing translocations outputs: toward a webdatabase on Conservation Translocations of Flora and Fauna in the Western Paleartic
In order to improve the efficiency of conservation translocations and particularly reintroductions, many authors advocate adaptive management, shared success criteria and dissemination of results. However, a large number of past reintroductions, including unsuccessful ones, are poorly documented and hard to identify. In that context, we developed a webdatabase on conservation translocations of flora and fauna in an area covering geographical Europe and non-European Mediterranean territories, i.e. a large part of the Western Palearctic. Up to March 2018, we have identified more than 860 translocations of plant populations and 530 reintroduction programmes of animals i.e. mostly angiosperms, birds and mammals but also gymnosperms, mosses, ferns, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and insects. We standardized data on release strategies and locations, biological material, post-translocation monitoring and results in term of population dynamics. We made available most sources of information, including references, websites, personal communications... For each programme, an index provides an overview of knowledge gaps. This webdatabase gives a free access to the list of past and ongoing programmes per taxon and location. It allows anyone to check whether his/her programme is actually considered or missing in the database. In a collaborative process, managers of past and ongoing translocation projects are welcome to add and/or edit data, upon request to the database managers. The main objectives of this collective webdatabase are (i) to support meta-analyses on translocations management and success, and (ii) to improve networking activities among a large diversity of translocation scientists, practitioners and stakeholders, and inform future managers on past implemented translocations.
Anne-Gabriela Schmalstieg(1), Corinna Esterer(1), Johannes Fritz(1)
1. Waldrappteam, Schulgasse 28, 6162 Mutters, Austria
Socially involved hand-rearing and training method for the human-led migration as part of the reintroduction of the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) in Europe
The Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita) is a migratory bird and is one of the most endangered bird species worldwide. A European LIFE+ reintroduction project aims to establish a population in Central Europe with a new migration tradition between breeding sites in Austria and Germany and a common wintering area in Italy.
The major release method is the so called human-led migration with human-imprinted juveniles. For that need, the offspring of captive zoo breeding colonies are taken to be hand-reared by human foster parents and trained to follow them in a microlight. After the singular journey to the wintering area the juveniles are released into the wild.
During hand-rearing a strong social bond between the juvenile birds and their human foster parents is established. In the course of a 13-year feasibility study the method of so called socially involved hand-rearing was continuously improved. Meanwhile, two foster parents raise and train groups of up to 32 birds per year and lead them to the South with daily flight stages of up to 360 km. The poster specifies our method of socially involved hand-rearing including the training to follow the microlight.
The project is implemented with 50% contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union (LIFE+12-BIO_AT_000143, LIFE Northern Bald Ibis).
Philip J. Seddon(1), Kent Redford(2)
1. University of Otago, New Zealand
2. Archipelago Consulting, USA
Synthetic biology and reintroductions: implications for conservation translocations
Synthetic biology has the potential to bypass the process of evolution to create a new way of working with living systems. Fundamentally, synthetic biologists seek to design and build engineered biological systems with capabilities that might not exist in natural systems - capabilities that could be applied in manufacturing, food production, and global health. Technological developments under the broad umbrella of synthetic biology relate to a massively improved efficiency and precision in the ability to read and to write genetic material. We outline three areas where synthetic biology tools, in the widest sense, could be applied to efforts to establish new free-ranging populations of species through conservation translocations: founder preparation, including engineering specific traits, epigenetic engineering, microbiome engineering, de-extinction and the creation of hybrid forms, and the anticipation of future environmental conditions; release-site preparation, including pest species eradication, community engineering, and enhanced ecological restoration; and post-release monitoring and management. We also consider wider developments in synthetic biology applications that could hinder conservation translocation efforts.
Julie Sherman(1), Kay H. Farmer(1), Elizabeth A. Williamson(1),(2), Steve Unwin(3), Sonya M. Kahlenberg(4), Anne Russon(5), Susan M. Cheyne(6),(7), Tatyana Humle(8), Natalie Mylniczenko(9), Elizabeth J. Macfie(10), Serge Wich(11)
1. Wildlife Impact
2. Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, UK
3. Chester Zoo
4. Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center
5. Psychology Dept., Glendon College of York University, Canada
6. Borneo Nature Foundation
7. IUCN SSC PSG Section on Small Apes
8. Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
9. Disney's Animals, Science and Environment
10. IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group Section on Great Apes
11. Liverpool John Moores University
Ape reintroduction: addressing misconceptions through methodology development and technical advisory resources
Reintroduction or translocation of wild-born orphaned primates into natural habitats is widely practiced for species recovery, but is rarely analyzed for its conservation impact or effectiveness. This is largely because tools such as IUCN reintroduction guidelines are misunderstood, ignored or misapplied. In particular, analysis of potential risks to wild populations and alternative activities for species conservation, including "no action" (no reintroduction), are underutilized. This paper presents a synopsis of issues and misconceptions encountered in ape reintroductions and translocations. It also presents an example of a Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) reintroduction methodology that uses IUCN guidelines and other available tools and knowledge to assess potential impacts and effectiveness relative to the circumstances of the proposed release and to alternate conservation activities. Conservation NGO Wildlife Impact (WI) established an Ape Reintroduction Committee (ARC), composed of independent scientific advisors, to assist ape release practitioners and funders to interpret and implement IUCN guidelines, including feasibility assessments and alternative actions to enhance population viability. The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) in Democratic Republic of Congo contracted WI in 2017 to develop a methodology for potential release of its orphaned Grauer's gorillas. This potential gorilla release methodology, created with input from the ARC and other experts working in the region, included advice on release candidate selection, social dynamics, disease risk, post-release monitoring and consideration of alternative actions. These tools provide a basis for making objective decisions about the relative costs and benefits of reintroduction and alternative species conservation activities.
1. San Diego Zoo
Using multidisciplinary research in behavior, ecology, physiology and genetics to develop a translocation model for the endangered Stephens' kangaroo rat
Conservation translocations reintroduce species to parts of their historic range to facilitate recovery. Though a popular tool, most translocations fail. Mortality during the establishment period has long been attributed to the behavioral responses of the translocated animals. Immediate rejection and long distance movement, "dispersal" from the release site is common and makes newly release animals easy targets for predators. The role of stress in release success is less clear. We conducted a series of controlled experiments with the endangered Stephens' kangaroo rat, (Dipodomys stephensi) to develop a translocation model for the species within an adaptive management framework. In particular, we examined the effect of founder group social relationships, conspecific attraction, apex predator scent cues, stress and habitat preferences on release success and used genetics, long term post-release assessments and population modeling to assess establishment, growth and population viability. Kangaroo rats translocated in neighbor groups were significantly more likely to survive and reproduce compared to those moved with strangers. Conspecific and top predator cue placement at the release site improved short term fitness and kangaroo rats preferred to settle on sites prepared with prescribed fire to those managed with grazing or mowing. While kangaroo rats showed increases in stress hormones during translocation, there was no effect of stress on post-release fitness. Our genetic and long-term monitoring results show that we established viable populations of Stephens' kangaroo rats using translocation. Our program highlights the value of using multidisciplinary research in an adaptive management framework for assessing and improving release programs.
1. University of Otago, Department of Zoology
Assessing habitat quality and management costs of species translocation sites
Selecting release sites with good habitat quality is one of the most critical steps in any reintroduction project. While good progress is being made by practitioners towards more systematic site assessments and translocation experiments, detailed descriptions of these approaches are rare in the literature. In addition, the term "habitat" remains, despite being a fundamental ecological concept, poorly defined and a potential source of confusion.
Reviewing a variety of definitions, I understand habitat not as vegetation associations, but as an area containing a species-specific set of resources and environmental conditions that allows a population to persist. I apply this understanding in an interdisciplinary case study on New Zealand's South Island Takahē (Porphyrio hochstetteri). My main objective is to develop a systematic approach for assessing both habitat quality and management costs of potential reintroduction sites.
I introduce a multi-scale methodology for identifying release sites that addresses the various scales at which species select habitat - beginning with a coarse investigation at landscape scale using geographic information systems. I then develop a system to estimate the management and establishment costs associated with reintroduction sites. These costs vary depending on factors such as land cover, remoteness, topography, and average land value. The integration of both ecological and economic aspects into a common analytical framework will help conservation practitioners to make better and sustainable management decisions about species translocation sites.
Erik Runquist(1), Cale Nordmeyer(1), Tara Harris(1), Emily Royer(1), Seth Stapleton(1)
1. Minnesota Zoo
Planning and adapting prairie butterfly conservation interventions in the face of rapid population declines
Though historic prairie loss has driven population declines of numerous species, some North American prairie butterfly populations have dwindled over the past two decades even where habitat remains. The endangered Poweshiek skipperling has disappeared from >95% of its former range and may now number fewer than 500. The historically sympatric Dakota skipper has also experienced significant declines in recent years and is federally threatened in the US. The causes of these and other prairie butterfly population declines are not fully understood, though multiple hypotheses exist. With time running out to reverse these declines and prevent extinction, a group of prairie butterfly experts and agency staff convened in 2015 to weigh options. Facilitated by the Conservation Planning Specialist Group, the group used IUCN Ex situ Management Guidelines to make difficult decisions about whether to utilize the imperiled wild populations to create ex situ conservation programs. Recommendations included research to better understand threats to wild populations, a research and reintroduction program for Dakota skipper, and a head-starting program for Poweshiek skipperling. The Minnesota Zoo and partners have worked to develop the ex situ conservation programs and conduct threats research. IUCN Reintroduction Guidelines were also used to plan the recommended releases. A collaborative group of partners that is willing to adapt quickly to unexpected issues has proven to be very important. The Minnesota Zoo's first reintroduction of zoo-bred Dakota skippers began in 2017, with breeding and egg-laying observed among released butterflies. Our first release of head-started Poweshiek skipperlings is planned for 2018.
Caronlina Starling-Manne(1), A. Fernando(1), S. Fernandez(1)
1. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro
Tortoise reintroduction as a species conservation and rewilding tool: the Brazilian Atlantic Forest case
The loss of ecological functions due to defaunation is a pervasive phenomenon threatening ecosystems in the Anthropocene. Defaunated forests lack interactions vital to their long term conservation, notably the dispersal of large-seeded plants. The Atlantic Forest (AF) is a biodiversity hotspot of which only 12% remains, mostly as impoverished small fragments. The reintroduction of a forest tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulatus) can be a useful tool for both habitat restoration and species conservation, for this species is an important disperser of seeds up to 40mm diameter, causing ingested seeds very little damage. The tortoise's ecological history in the biome is unclear, but there are signs of its extirpation from most of the AF due to hunting pressure and habitat loss, as supported by naturalists' reports and the species' life history. We have mapped its extirpation through time, linking it to the chronology of human settlement. The credit of ecological interactions to be cashed with the reintroduction of the species in the AF was estimated, with plant species of special concern being highlighted. We recommend the reintroduction of this tortoise to restore dispersal of large seeded plants throughout its original range, as it is a far better candidate to perform this function in small fragments than its ecological equivalents. A tortoise reintroduction is currently underway in an AF fragment to test its effects and model the species' seed dispersal, as part of REFAUNA, a refaunation initiative in the Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro.
Levi Collier-Robinson (Ngāti Apa ki te rā to, Ngāi Tahu)(1),*, Aisling Rayne(1),*, Makarini Rupene (Ngāi Tuāhuriri, Ngāi Tahu)(2), Channell Thoms (Ngāti Kuri, Ngāi Tahu)(1), Angus McIntosh(1), Roger Moraga(3), Tammy Steeves(1)
1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
2. Ngāi Tahu Research Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
3. Tea Break Bioinformatics Ltd, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Critical first steps towards building resilience in two threatened New Zealand freshwater endemics
Recent genomic advances promise to better enable the characterisation of adaptive potential in threatened species, and there is growing interest in shifting focus away from maintaining the evolutionary distinctiveness of relatively small, isolated populations towards maximising the adaptive potential of relatively large, connected metapopulations to improve conservation outcomes. There is also growing recognition in primary industry (e.g., agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture) that embedding conservation genetic principles can lead to improved outcomes, particularly for species that currently exist as a series of small, isolated populations. In partnership with Ngāi Tūāhuriri (indigenous tribe/Māori iwi), we have identified two such species of importance: the critically endangered taonga (treasured) species, kōwaro/Canterbury mudfish (Neochanna burrowsius) and the declining mahinga kai (traditional food source) species, kekewai/freshwater crayfish (Paranephrops zealandicus). Whereas kōwaro are currently being translocated to enhance species recovery in Ngāi Tūāhuriri's takiwā (region), translocations are being considered for kekewai to enhance sustainable customary and commercial harvest. To date, we have co-developed an iterative decision timeline that includes sample handling, sequencing technologies, sequencing facilities, data handling and data storage. To generate de novo kōwaro and kekewai genomes, we have sampled individuals - using tau kōura (fern bundles) for kekewai - from two culturally significant locations. We are using these reference genomes to characterise adaptive potential in kōwaro and kekewai using Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) data combined with extensive ecological and environmental data for both species. Kōwaro and kekewai are two of five taxonomically diverse Aotearoa (New Zealand) endemics that are the focus of a larger interdisciplinary project that seeks to integrate mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) with western science to develop a culturally-responsive, evidence-based position statement regarding the benefits and risks of prioritising adaptive potential to build resilience in threatened taonga species, including mahinga kai species destined for customary or commercial harvest.
Zoe Stone(1), Martine Maron(1), Lynn Baker(2)
1. University of Queensland
2. NSW Office of Environment & Heritage
Getting it right from the start: pre-release habitat management and captive breeding of the northern Eastern Bristlebird
The northern population of the Eastern Bristlebird is at a critical stage in its conservation. With a wild estimated population of only 38 individuals, and only 5 known breeding pairs, intensive management actions are needed to avoid its extinction. Reintroductions will be a critical action needed to increase the population. The northern bristlebird occurs in grassy forest habitat on rainforest margin along the Queensland-New South Wales border of Australia. The dynamic nature of this habitat, along with the logistic complications of being found across a state border mean pre-release habitat management and stakeholder cooperation will be vital for the success of this project. As part of this work, the Eastern Bristlebird Recovery-Northern Working Group has begun pre-release habitat management and captive breeding initiatives based on collaborative research on habitat requirements, importance of fire and population genetics. This research has identified key habitat characteristics associated with long-term persistence of bristlebirds, and developed appropriate fire management strategies to improve habitat and avoid loss of grassy understorey from rainforest and weed encroachment. This presentation will provide an overview of the northern bristlebird recovery efforts, including how investment in pre-release research and management is aiding the conservation effort, and how genetic issues associated with the small, isolated population are being considered in the captive breeding program.
Duncan Sutherland(1), Peter Dann(1), Amy Coetsee(2)
1. Phillip Island Nature Parks, PO Box 97, Cowes, Victoria 3922, Australia
2. Zoos Victoria, Elliott Avenue, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia
Implementing trial translocations for community engagement to support releases to large inhabited islands
Conservation of fauna threatened by introduced predators may be possible only in predator free environments and the best prospects for this to be sustained in the long-term and at large scales is on large offshore islands. Many large offshore islands are permanently inhabited by people, which present logistical as well as socio-political challenges. Translocating fauna to inhabited islands comes with uncertainties: the species may not persist due to unrecognised or unmanaged threats; but equally importantly, the community can fear unknown consequences. Large inhabited islands are frontiers for achieving pest eradications and successful translocations, but offer enormous potential benefits.
An ambitious introduction of the Critically Endangered eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii) to two large inhabited islands in south eastern Australia, Phillip and French Islands, was proposed as the islands now provide abundant habitat free of foxes, the primary threat to the bandicoots. To help engage with the communities and address their potential concerns about the introduction, a two year trial release was conducted on a small neighbouring island. Residents could visit this demonstration site, engage with researchers and see what they might expect from an introduction to their island.
The demonstration site has been invaluable for garnering community support. Bandicoots were successfully released to Phillip Island in October 2017 and plans are underway for a release to French Island. Proactive community engagement has enabled the vision to create safe havens where species can be reintroduced or even introduced to recover threatened species.
Washington Tapia(1), James P. Gibbs(1), Linda J. Cayot(1)
1. Galapagos Conservancy; State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Reintroductions to restore a species complex: the first fifty years of giant tortoise restoration in Galapagos
Current aggregate numbers of Galapagos giant tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.) are estimated to be a mere 20% of the historical population. Of the 11 extant species, five are considered Critically Endangered, three Endangered, and three Vulnerable. Tortoises were driven to extinction by humans on three islands. Over fifty years of conservation efforts in the Galapagos Islands have initiated the restoration of giant tortoise populations across the archipelago through a combination of strategies developed "species by species" according to the status of each tortoise population and its threats. A head-starting program begun in 1965 has released over 8,000 juvenile tortoises into nine populations. This work includes both captive breeding groups and collection of eggs/hatchlings from nests in the wild that are reared to approximately five years old before released back into the wild. Field surveys indicate post-liberation survival rates over 50%. In 2010, a group of 39 adult hybrid tortoises were sterilized and released onto Pinta Island (tortoise species now extinct) to carry out the critical role of ecosystem engineer especially during the recovery of the vegetation following the eradication of goats in 2006. In 2015, a replacement species was used for the first time in Galapagos to reintroduce tortoises to Santa Fe Island, where the original species went extinct over 150 years ago. The long-term goal is to restore Galapagos giant tortoise populations to their historical distribution and numbers, a process now well underway.
Helen R. Taylor(1), Neil J. Gemmell(1)
1. Department of Anatomy, University of Otago, Lindo Ferguson Building, Great King Street, Dunedin, 9016, New Zealand
Are translocated males firing blanks? Sperm biology, genetics and reintroduction management in threatened birds
Reintroduced populations are often, by necessity, founded with relatively few individuals. A small founding population can lead to reduced genetic diversity, and increased mating between relatives (inbreeding), both of which can lead to reduced fitness. Specifically, inbreeding is known to negatively affect male fertility across numerous species of mammals, plants, and insects. Surprisingly, very little is known about the impact of inbreeding on sperm quality in birds - common subjects for reintroductions. We used a specially designed mobile sperm laboratory to measure sperm quality (speed, morphology, and DNA fragmentation) in hihi/stitchbirds (Notiomystis cincta), a vulnerable nectivore endemic to New Zealand. We sampled semen from 128 male hihi across four populations, all of which except one were founded via translocations. Inbred hihi are known to exhibit increased hatching failure compared to less inbred individuals, but the cause of this failure remains unknown. Our sperm quality data suggest at least some of these failures are due to poor male fertility, as a result of reduced genetic diversity and increased inbreeding. We are also measuring inbreeding in reintroduced hihi populations using >10,000 genetic markers. Establishing whether inbred male birds exhibit lower fertility will improve the management of reintroduced avian populations and help maximise breeding success.
Charles Thévenin(1), Maud Mouchet(1), Alexandre Robert(1), Christian Kerbiriou(1), François Sarrazin(1)
1. Sorbonne Université, MNHN, CNRS, UMR7204 CESCO, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 43 rue Buffon, 75005 Paris
Reintroductions of birds and mammals involve evolutionarily distinct species at the regional scale
Reintroductions offer a powerful tool for reversing the effects of species extirpation. However this species-centered conservation approach has been criticized for its strong biases toward charismatic birds and mammals. Here, we investigated the potential contribution of reintroductions to the conservation of evolutionary diversity within these two groups at a continental scale (i.e., Europe, North and Central America). We found that reintroduced birds and mammals of the two subcontinents tend to be more evolutionarily distinct than expected by chance, despite strong taxonomic biases leading to low values of phylogenetic diversity. The selection of candidate species for reintroduction considers management constraints as well as the priority of a species for recovery, of which evolutionary history is only one component. While evolutionary considerations are unlikely to have explicitly driven the allocation of reintroduction efforts, our results illustrate an interest of reintroduction practitioners toward species with fewer close relatives. The recent exponential increase in the number of implemented programs provides opportunities to assess the relevance of the allocation of reintroduction efforts. However it is important to ponder the type of diversity that could be supported by reintroductions (e.g. phylogenetic, functional or taxonomic). Also, because reintroductions rely on a parochial approach of conservation, it is important to first understand how the motivations and constraints at stake in a local context can induce biases before trying to assess the relevance of the allocation of reintroduction efforts to the conservation of biodiversity at larger scales.
Amanda E. Trask(1), Eric M. Bignal(2), Davy I. McCracken(3), Pat Monaghan(4), Stuart B. Piertney(1), Jane M. Reid(1)
1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
2. Scottish Chough Study Group, Isle of Islay, Argyll, UK
3. Future Farming Systems, Scotland's Rural College, Ayr, UK
4. Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health & Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
Integrating demography, ecology and genetics to evaluate the case for population reinforcements in a threatened population of red-billed choughs
Small, isolated populations can face genetic threats from inbreeding and genetic drift, such that population reinforcements via translocations may be required to reestablish gene flow and ensure population viability. However, such populations also often face immediate ecological threats. Designing effective management strategies then requires quantitative assessment of the relative impacts of genetic and ecological threats, and of the relative time-scales over which they operate. We used long-term demographic data from a UK red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) population of high conservation concern to identify and evaluate demographic, ecological and genetic mechanisms constraining population growth rate and thereby rigorously evaluate the scientific case for translocations. We used data on sex- and age-specific reproduction and survival to demonstrate that effective population size is critically small, such that inbreeding will increase rapidly over future generations. Further, we demonstrate that occurrences of blindness observed in chough nestlings exactly matches that expected given Mendelian inheritance of a single-locus recessive mutation, providing rare evidence of the expression of a lethal recessive allele in a wild population of conservation concern. We then built a genetically-explicit individual-based model to simulate joint genetic and ecological effects on stochastic demography to infer population viability under different combinations of genetic (translocations) and ecological (habitat management and food supplementation) management scenarios. Our results suggest that translocations are required to ensure long-term population viability, contingent on continued ecological management. Overall, we demonstrate the need to consider holistic threats to wild populations over different time-scales, to design management strategies that maximise long-term population persistence probability.
Markus Unsöld(1), Johannes Fritz(1)
1. Waldrappteam, Bavarian State Collection of Zoology
Reintroduction of migratory birds: pros and cons of migratory and resident populations
With changing climate conditions, in various migratory bird species populations tend to shorten the migration route or even change from a migratory to a resident lifestyle. For example, Western European White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) populations successively shorten their migration journey and remain in Europe over winter, some of them even in the breeding area.
In the Northern Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita), the last remaining wild population at the Atlantic coast in Morocco is resident, while the majority of former wild populations all over the historic breeding range including Morocco were known to be migratory.
Currently, two Northern Bald Ibis reintroduction projects are going on in Europa. In Spain, Proyecto Eremita is on the way to establish a resident population, while Waldrappteam in Central Europe works on a migratory release population.
Using these two projects as examples, we discuss the pros and cons of both methods, resident and migratory release, with a migratory bird species. More overall, the major question is whether the maintenance of the migratory life style is essential for the conservation of migratory birds.
The project is implemented with 50 % contribution of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union (LIFE+12-BIO_AT_000143, LIFE Northern Bald Ibis).
Leonie Valentine(1), Catherine Ryan(1), Christopher Johnson(1), Richard Hobbs(1)
1. University of Western Australia & University of Tasmania
Reducing fire risk by reintroducing threatened ecosystem engineers
Many of the world's threatened species are considered ecosystem engineers due to the functional role they provide in landscapes, and the reintroduction of these species may assist in restoring ecosystem processes. Digging animals are increasingly recognised as important contributors to nutrient cycling, soil health and vegetation composition as they substantially disrupt and modify the ground's surface by creating foraging pits or burrows. We propose that the extensive disturbance to the soil and litter layer may also modify fuel distribution and availability, potentially altering fire intensity and extent in some environments. Inappropriate fires are a threatening process in Australian landscapes, presenting major management issues along a spectrum of protected areas, from urban reserves to remote national parks. Many of Australia's threatened digging mammals, such as bandicoots and bettongs, are the focus of reintroduction programs, and understanding how their reintroduction may alter fire risk will inform broader landscape management decisions. We develop a conceptual model for understanding the mechanisms by which reintroduced digging animals can contribute to altered fire regimes. In addition, we experimentally examined how the reintroduction of a marsupial bandicoot, quenda (Isoodon fusciventer), alters surface fuel loads in an urban bush reserve in Perth, Western Australia. Within four years of reintroduction, foraging activities of quenda had halved surface fuel loads compared to plots where quenda were absent (e.g. 3.4 c.f. 6.2 tonnes ha-1). Managing fire is a considerable concern for conservation managers around the globe, and the reintroduction of some threatened species may have added value for reducing fire risk.
Gabriela Vigo Trauco(1), Janice Boyd(1), Donald Brightsmith(2)
1. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Texas A&M University
2. Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center, Texas A&M University. Tambopta Macaw Project
Increasing survival of macaw chicks using foster parents in the wild
The use of foster parents in avian population management is a technique with great potential to aid in the recovery of highly endangered species. However, few studies have studied how to accomplish this successfully. Our research shows that Scarlet Macaws in southeastern Peru hatch 2-4 chicks per nest but just 1.3 of them fledge. Here about 22% of all hatched chicks die of starvation and starvation is the most common cause of chick death. Parents always raise the first chick that hatches, but 45% of second chicks, 97% all of third and 100% of all fourth chicks are left to starve to death by their parents. Our goal was to develop and test new techniques to increase survival of wild Scarlet Macaw chicks by reducing chick starvation. We hypothesized that we could pull chicks at risk of starvation, raise them in captivity to about 18 days of age then move them to nests with only one chick to increase their chances of survival. Our results show that all translocated macaw chicks were successfully accepted by their foster parents (N=15 chicks, 2 consecutive breeding seasons) and 93% of the translocated chicks fledged successfully. Overall we increased fledging success per available nest from 18% (1999 - 2016 average) to 29% (2017 and 2018) and decreased chick death by starvation from 19% to 4%. These findings show that the use of foster parents in the wild is a promising management tool to aid wild parrot population recovery in areas with low reproductive success.
Marcelo R. Vilarta(1), Linda N. Wittkoff(1), Nívia G. Pinto(1), William K. Wittkoff(1), Wallace C. Wittkoff(1), Claudia B. Wittkoff(2), William C. Wittkoff(2), Luis F. Silveira(3)
1. Fundação Lymington
3. Museu de Zoologia da USP
Reintroduction of the Golden Conure (Guaruba guarouba) in protected areas in Brazilian Amazon Forest
Brazil is the country with the highest number of parrots, but accounting for a large number of threatened species. The Golden Conure is a Brazilian endemic, occurring only in the Amazon forest. It is currently considered as threatened of extinction by deforestation and capture for the illegal market. However, it is fairly common in captivity. Lymington Foundation has a large expertise in captive breeding of this species, and through a partnership with IDEFLOR, a group of 14 birds were selected to start the first attempt to reintroduce this species. The birds selected for reintroduction were hand reared and after passed through standard health exams were sent to a protected area in Belém, where the species was extinct since the 1940's. The birds were trained during 5 months to recognize the local food items, identify and react against predators and also were used as catalysts to involve the local population on their protection through environmental education. By now, 11 golden conures have been released and are currently being monitored. Some live by the vicinity of the release site, others are far away. Current success milestones include: (1) couples recorded mating in the wild, (2) predator attacks successfully evaded and (3) many new food items consumed. This project aims to release over 30 more individuals until November. The data will be used to produce a release protocol for this species and for reintroduction of parrots in Brazil.
Thomas H. White, Jr.(1), Yara de Melo Barros(2), Pedro F. Develey(3), Iván C. Llerandi-Román(4),Omar A. Monsegur-Rivera(5), Ana M. Trujillo-Pinto(6)
1. United States Fish & Wildlife Service, Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
2. Foz Tropicana Parque das Aves, Foz do Iguaçu, PR, Brasil
3. BirdLife/SAVE Brasil, São Paulo, SP, Brasil
4,5. Puerto Rico Department of Natural & Environmental Resources, San Juan, Puerto Rico
5,6. Department of Environmental Science, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Improving reintroduction planning and implementation through quantitative SWOT analysis
Recent decades have seen increasing use and importance of translocations and reintroductions as tools for species' conservation and ecological restorations. Most such efforts face substantial logistical complexities and high costs, both biological and financial. These and other challenges have contributed to numerous failures or partial successes of reintroductions, a trend which has improved little over time. Given the negative ramifications of reintroduction failures, practitioners have adopted or developed numerous analytical and procedural methods in efforts to promote successful outcomes. However, many such methods are often ad hoc or taxon-specific, particularly regarding the evaluation and selection of reintroduction areas and sites. Despite the recognized importance of this phase of reintroduction planning, there is to date no comprehensive methodology for selecting suitable reintroduction sites. We describe in detail the application of quantitative SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for objectively evaluating candidate reintroduction areas or sites, and how results of this analysis are used for identifying the most effective and efficient management actions for promoting reintroduction success. We use examples drawn from recent reintroduction plans for three avian species in Puerto Rico (1) and Brazil (2) to illustrate specific methodologies used as well as the results obtained and their application to the reintroduction planning and implementation process. From our findings, quantitative SWOT analysis is a simple, versatile, repeatable and intuitive method for reintroduction area and site selection. The method also provides a valuable mechanism for evaluating and prioritizing management actions relative to their efficiency and effectiveness for achieving reintroduction objectives.
1. The Conservation Land Trust Argentina
Population viability assessment for reintroduced giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) population in Iberá Reserve, Corrientes, Argentina
The use of post-release monitoring data in conservation translocation programmes is essential for predicting population trends over time, and for guiding management actions. This study aimed to update a pre-release Population Viability Assessment (PVA) from a giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) population reintroduced in the Iberá Reserve (Corrientes, Argentina), and to determine the availability of suitable habitat for its expansion. Using a 10 year post-release monitoring dataset, vital rates from the reintroduced population were estimated. Telemetry locations were used to analyse landscape variables affecting anteater's habitat selection. A map of habitat suitability was developed for the reserve and a potential expansion area, estimating its carrying capacity. A final PVA was developed using the estimated carrying capacity, in order to compare predicted parameters over 100 years (stochastic growth rate, extinction probability and genetic diversity) with previous scenarios. PVA results from post-release data showed an optimistic overlook of the population in the future, with no need of urgent management actions. The population has suitable habitat available for dispersing in the future, even outside the reserve where it is currently distributed. Nonetheless, additional aspects affecting anteater's habitat selection outside the reserve and potential human-wildlife conflict should be assessed in future studies of the population expansion. Recommendations from this study include the development of a well-designed monitoring programme for being applied in short-term PVAs projections, the continuity of a fire management programme inside the reserve, and the constant communication with neighbours to avoid human-wildlife conflict, considering the potential population expansion in the area.
1. School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University, China
The population trends and behavioral research of Pere David's deer in Dafeng, China
The Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve was formally established in 1986, when 39 elk were reintroduced from the United Kingdom. As of 2016, Dafeng population has reached 3,223, accounting for more than half of the world population. While Dafeng population has achieved rapid development, various constraints have also affected the future of the population. These factors include habitat degradation, high population density, and increased disease risk. With the help of Vortex 10, we analyzed population viability of Dafeng population. At the same time, we have conducted systematic research on the aspects of feeding behavior, alert behavior, grooming behavior, and interspecific relationships with sympatric species. These results showed that, as a reintroduced species, the deer have been adapted to their current environment, and have escaped from extinction risk on the whole. In the future, research should focus on the assessment and selection of potential habitats, establish and link up the two major populations along the coast of Yellow Sea and along the Yangtze River, so that the deer can truly return to the natural wetlands in the middle and lower Yangtze River.
1. Indonesian Parrot Project
"Returning to the wild" a parrot conundrum
The illegal trade in parrots in Indonesia is rampant. Current figures reveal over 10,000 birds are taken from North Maluku alone each year. Seventy percent of these birds will die before ever reaching a final destination.
The Wildlife Conservation Society Crime Unit, TRAFFIC and other organizations are actively confiscating parrots from the illegal trade and prosecuting perpetrators in Indonesia. However, that creates a new problem - the disposition and care of the birds, many of which are endangered species. Birds can be rehabilitated and returned to their native forests, but there are four critical steps which are likely to determine the success or failure of this procedure: disease testing, endemism, capacity building at the local level and soft release.
The Indonesian Parrot Project built our first rescue, rehabilitation and release center on Seram Island in 2006 and converted trappers into bird caretakers and guides.
As of 2015, we have released over 1200 parrots back into the wild including 250 Salmon-crested cockatoos (C. Cacatua moluccensis). Reintroduction itself may not actually affect wild populations but serves as a strong conservation message to the people to illustrate that the birds should be valued as a symbol of the country versus trapped and smuggled.