Wednesday, 26 June 2013

More than life and death, part I: using measures of animal stress to monitor the success of reintroductions

As a plant ecologist, I find some of animal-specific issues in conservation translocations are particularly interesting and relevant to my current work writing a code and best practice guidance for undertaking conservation translocations in Scotland.  The implications of moving animals can affect their welfare and ultimately make or break a reintroduction (or other translocation) attempt.  In a paper I've recently read, David Jachowski and his co-authors (2013) look at elephant stress indicators (fecal glucocorticoid metabolites concentrations) in South Africa and demonstrate that an elevated physiological state, indicative of high stress, can take up to 25 years ameliorate. What was striking was the decrease in the coefficient of variation in this relationship which reduced by about half in a reintroduction that had taken place 24 years prior compared to one that had been undertaken the year before the study commenced. Effectively, this tells us that elephants might be subject to very high levels of stress immediately after release, whilst other individuals show levels of stress which are not so different to elephants that have not been moved.  Elephants are complex animals - behavioural, social and physiological cues can all contribute to whether an individual shows signs of stress, so it isn't surprising to see a big range of stress responses in a study such as this one which looks retrospectively at reintroductions in five separate locations.  The authors suggest that some causes of stress such as seasonal pressures from lack of food and higher temperatures, are out of the control of reserve managers, however human interaction, principally with tourists, can be reduced by providing refuge areas away from roads and developments and from which tourists are prevented from entering.

Given that elephants are such long-lived animals, we might expect that physical acclimatization will take a long time post-release. But what about other animals? A systematic review of animal reintroductions* by Lauren Harrington and her co-authors categorised the reported results according to measures that could be interpreted as welfare indicators, either directly or indirectly. The projects reviewed were mainly focused on mammals and birds (89% of 199 studies). Unsurprisingly, more than 70% reported survival rates, and reproduction was reported in 52%, dispersal in 42% home range establishment in 39% and population size in 36% of the projects reviewed. But to me, these measures give a very limited insight into the welfare implications of translocating animals. For example, Jachowski et al (2013) report that high stress in elephants causes incredibly aggressive behaviouir which can affect the survival of other species including humans. Harrington et al 's review revealed that only three studies (2%) incorporated physiological measures of stress similar to that used by Jachowski et al (2013). The review also showed that animal welfare during translocation was more than closely monitored than similar welfare indicators post-release (26% versus 14% respectively).

So when I'm recommending monitoring of animals post-release, what should this plant ecologist say? I'm very aware that it's easy to make demands on translocation practitioners from the comfort of my office but in reality, would stringent requirements to monitor stress indicators put people off undertaking conservation translocations? My current feeling is that all proposals for future animal translocations should incorporate plans to monitor stress indicators. The example of elephants killing people and other large animals (in one case >100 white rhinoceroses) may be an extreme one but effectively illustrates that just because translocated animals have survived, doesn't mean we can call the reintroduction a success.

* Although the authors refer to reintroductions in the title, the review actually encompasses various types of conservation translocation.

Harrington, L. A., Moehrenschlager, A., Gelling, M., Atkinson, R. P. D., Hughes, J., & Macdonald, D. W. (2013). Conflicting and Complementary Ethics of Animal Welfare Considerations in Reintroductions. Conservation Biology, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/cobi.12021

Jachowski, D. S., Slotow, R., & Millspaugh, J. J. (2013). Delayed physiological acclimatization by African elephants following reintroduction. Animal Conservation, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/acv.12031

Monday, 17 June 2013

Translocation digest - June 2013

Translocation projects:

Endangered beetle reintroduced in SW Mo.
Seattle Post Intelligencer
EL DORADO SPRINGS, Mo. (AP) — The Saint Louis Zoo and other conservation groups have been working to restore the population of an endangered beetle in southwest Missouri, and the effort appears successful so far.

In the News: Scarlet macaw reintroduced to parts of Mexico
ARKive (blog)
The first macaw reintroduction took place in April, with a second small flock scheduled for release at the end of June. After this, small groups of 10 to 12 birds at a time will be released until a quota of 60 to 70 for this year is met.

Mountain lion population could pose a threat to reintroduction of bighorns in ...
The Republic
TUCSON, Arizona — An already "robust" population of mountain lions in the Catalina Mountains appears to be increasing — and that could pose a threat to a planned reintroduction of bighorn sheep in the range this fall.

New swan chicks at Lincoln Park Zoo soon to go wild
Chicago Tribune
After about four months growing up with their protective parents, the six endangered chicks will be released into the wild as part of a trumpeter-swan reintroduction and recovery program the zoo has been active in for more than a decade, officials said ...

First translocated rhino gives birth in Manas National Park
Indian Express
Mainao, the first rhino that was translocated to the Manas National Park in western ... and conservation staff working towards bringing Manas back to shape.

4 of 8 California condors died from lead poisoning
Officials with the Peregrine Fund's condor reintroduction project say 72 condors currently fly in a range that stretches from Arizona's Grand Canyon to southern Utah's Zion National Park. There were just 22 condors when a program was started in 1996 to ...

Wild lynx to be brought back to British countryside
Senior biologists and cat specialists are this week due to apply for a license to reintroduce the cats, which can grow up to four feet in length, into an area of forest on the west coast of Scotland. Under the plans, which have been backed by officials ...

Can't send lions to gun country: International Union for Conservation of ...
Economic Times
Besides, the Supreme Court verdict on translocation states, "Re-introduction of Asiatic lion, needless to say, should be in accordance with the guidelines issued by IUCN and with the active participation of experts in the field of re-introduction of ...


Benito-Garzón, M., Ha-Duong, M., Frascaria-Lacoste, N. and Fernández-Manjarrés, J. (2013), Habitat Restoration and Climate Change: Dealing with Climate Variability, Incomplete Data, and Management Decisions with Tree Translocations. Restoration Ecology. doi: 10.1111/rec.12032

Hedrick, P. W. (2013), Conservation genetics and the persistence and translocation of small populations: bighorn sheep populations as examples. Animal Conservation. doi: 10.1111/acv.12064

Lawes, T. J., Anthony, R. G., Robinson, W. D., Forbes, J. T. and Lorton, G. A. (2013), Movements and settlement site selection of pygmy rabbits after experimental translocation. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.572

McCleery, R., Oli, M. K., Hostetler, J. A., Karmacharya, B., Greene, D., Winchester, C., Gore, J., Sneckenberger, S., Castleberry, S. B. and Mengak, M. T. (2013), Are declines of an endangered mammal predation-driven, and can a captive-breeding and release program aid their recovery?. Journal of Zoology. doi: 10.1111/jzo.12046

Christensen, P. and McDonald, T. (2013), Reintroductions and controlling feral predators: Interview with Per Christensen. Ecological Management & Restoration, 14: 93–100. doi: 10.1111/emr.12044

Harris, S., Arnall, S., Byrne, M., Coates, D., Hayward, M., Martin, T., Mitchell, N. and Garnett, S. (2013), Whose backyard? Some precautions in choosing recipient sites for assisted colonisation of Australian plants and animals. Ecological Management & Restoration, 14: 106–111. doi: 10.1111/emr.12041

WOODFORD, J. E., MACFARLAND, D. M. and WORLAND, M. (2013), Movement, survival, and home range size of translocated american martens (Martes americana) in wisconsin. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.291

SMYSER, T. J., JOHNSON, S. A., KRISTEN PAGE, L., HUDSON, C. M. and RHODES, O. E. (2013), Use of Experimental Translocations of Allegheny Woodrat to Decipher Causal Agents of Decline. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12064

Runge, M. C. (2013), Active adaptive management for reintroduction of an animal population. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.571

COLLAZO, J. A., FACKLER, P. L., PACIFICI, K., WHITE, T. H., LLERANDI-ROMAN, I. and DINSMORE, S. J. (2013), Optimal allocation of captive-reared Puerto Rican parrots: Decisions when divergent dynamics characterize managed populations. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.569

GRIFFITHS, C. J., ZUËL, N., JONES, C. G., AHAMUD, Z. and HARRIS, S. (2013), Assessing the Potential to Restore Historic Grazing Ecosystems with Tortoise Ecological Replacements. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12087

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Remote sensing in reintroduction planning: oryx recovery in Chad

I was really pleased when I discovered the paper by Terri Freemantle and co-authors featured in this post, as I've been thinking about the potential for remote sensing to contribute to reintroduction programmes for a while now. One reason for this is the increasing frequency with which authors call for adequate assessments of habitat which recognise that due to global environmental change, the habitat may have altered since the species was extirpated. However, from the literature I've read, satellite-derived data is more readily used in predictive studies concerned with the potential for range shift and the feasibility of assisted colonisation. To me, it seems imperitive that reintroductions are just as careful to assess habitat suitability and the recent improvement in data that is available on global climate, vegetation and human impact should enable this to happen.

The paper concerns the scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) and its potential reintroduction to a Sahelian/sub-Saharan region of Chad. As a herbivore, a major aspect of habitat suitability is the availability of forage and this can be detected as photosynthetically active vegetation in other words, green plants. The study identified a 'greening' of the Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve which the authors attribute to an overall increase in precipitation since the 1970s. They were also able to rule out hypotheses presented in previous studies that the increase in plant cover was due to human land use changes. They did this using a Human Footprint Index comprising data on transport, night-time lights, urban areas, land cover and population density to a resolution of 1 km. Whilst human disturbance has been relatively low and is not thought to be the driver behind greening, Freemantle et al indicate that the Reserve boundaries need to be enforced to prevent human encroachment onto now favourable pasture. The spatial variation in where greening has occured means that the oryx habitat may become squeezed as their preferred environment, the ecotone between desert and grassland, becomes narrower.

The authors admit that remote sensing techniques might be a crude tool for habitat evaluation but I agree with them that at landscape-scale, these methods offer a valuable source of information prior to undertaking any conservation translocation.  I would go further to point out that I know of few other studies that have incorporated human impact on this scale into a reintroduction planning exercise.  The data is there and available for anyone who wants to use it and I suggest that more people copy this example.

Freemantle, T. P., Wacher, T., Newby, J., & Pettorelli, N. (2013). Earth observation: overlooked potential to support species reintroduction programmes. African Journal of Ecology, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/aje.12060

Friday, 7 June 2013

IUCN/SSC Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations - final version released

Just a quick update to let everyone know that the fully formatted version of the IUCN/SSC Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations (including annexes) has now been released and you can get a copy by emailing me: or following this link:

It's the same in content as the 'interim' version which I know many of you have seen but the final release looks nicer and has the full citation details:

IUCN/SSC (2013). Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations. Version 1.0. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN Species Survival Commission, viiii + 57 pp.  ISBN: 978-2-8317-1609-1

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Translocation digest - May 2013

Conservation translocation projects:

India acts to save Asiatic lion by moving it – but hard work has ...
The Guardian
"The Gir conservation project has staved off extinction and helped increase population. Thetranslocation is about strengthening conservation prospects and ...

Kiwi Conservation Genetics
The Earth Times
Only 5 birds formed the nucleus of a translocated colony moved to Kapiti Island ...How to manage a population that needs conserving, yet seems likely to ...

Enthusiasts celebrate the anniversary of wolf reintroduction
Silver City Sun News
Dave Parsons, carnivore conservation biologist and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator, was the guest speaker at the 15th Anniversary Lobo Birthday Party, held at the Little Walnut Creek picnic area on Sunday.

First eagles for more than 100 years born in Ireland
Irish Examiner
“The birth of these chicks gives a great boost to the reintroduction project initiated by my Department in conjunction with the Golden Eagle Trust. The principal aim of this project is to re-establish a viable breeding population of white-tailed eagles ...


Scimitar-Horned Oryx Reintroduction Workshop (2012 ...
Scimitar-Horned Oryx Reintroduction Workshop (2012) report. Submitted by CBSG on Wed, 2013-05-15 09:27. File: SHO_Chad_WorkshopReport_English_FINAL.pdf ...

Atkinson, K.-L., & Lacroix, C. (2013). Evaluating reintroduction methods for the Gulf of Saint Lawrence aster (Symphyotrichum laurentianum) on Prince Edward Island. Botany, 91, 293–299.

Clements, D. R. (2013). Translocation of rare plant species to restore Garry oak ecosystems in western Canada: challenges and opportunities. Botany, 91, 283–291.

Fant, J. B., Kramer, A., Sirkin, E., & Havens, K. (2013). Genetics of reintroduced populations of the narrowly endemic thistle, Cirsium pitcheri (Asteraceae). Botany, 91, 301–308.

Grewell, B. J., Espeland, E. K., & Fiedler, P. L. (2013). Sea change under climate change: case studies in rare plant conservation from the dynamic San Francisco Estuary. Botany, 91, 309–318.

Guerrant, E. O. (2013). The value and propriety of reintroduction as a conservation tool for rare plants. Botany, 91, v–x.

Rynear, J., Peterson, C. L., & Richardson, M. L. (2013). Variables influencing germination and initial survival of two critically endangered plants: Warea amplexifolia and Lupinus aridorum. Botany, 91, 323–326.

Severns, P. M. (2013). Genetic differentiation in an artificial population of the threatened plant Lupinus oreganus (Fabaceae). Botany, 91, 319–322.

Valderrama, Sandra E., Laura E. Molles, Joseph R. Waas and Hans Slabbekoorn Conservation implications of song divergence between source and translocated populations of the North Island Kōkako JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY Volume 50, Issue 3, June 2013. DOI : 10.1111/1365-2664.12094


Invitation to 26th International Ornithological Congress

Registration and abstract submission is now open for the 2014 IOC in Japan. Please pass this notice on through your networks.

Of possible specific interest Symposium S6 is "Avian Reintroductions in Changing Environments", convened by Dr Nagata Hisashi of Niigata University and me.

If you have examples of avian translocations (planned, undertaken, successful or not) into modified habitats or in response to changing environments (including Assisted Colonisation) then please consider submitting an abstract. We would be especially interested in projects that make reference to the new (2012) IUCN Reintroduction Guidelines.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Translocation digest - April 2013

SA, Botswana in rhino translocation deal
The translocation was facilitated in partnership with conservation organisation Rhino Force and funded by insurance administrator Motorite Administrators.

&Beyond translocate six white rhino to Okavango Delta
Translocations are fundamental to secure the survival of endangered species. This project is led by &Beyond's conservation team and aims to increase ...

Kihansi Toads Reintroduced in the Wilderness
Kilombero — TANZANIA has gone down in history as the world's first country to successfullyreintroduce into the wild amphibians that had been in danger of extinction. This has been revealed during the release of the second batch of 1,500 Kihansi Spray ...

The Reintroduction of Wolves | Skeptoid
Out of the efforts of these latter a federal wolf reintroduction program was born, the future of which has been the subject of a long and bitter debate in the ...

Reintroduction of Wolves Remains Contentious - Arizona Public Media
A recovery effort has been underway for decades and reached a milestone in 1998 when wolves werereintroduced into their historic territories in Arizona and ...

Conserving the Aplomado falcon
The Northern Aplomado Falcon is a beautiful raptor with a former range including all of South America, Central America, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. It's also critically endangered. That's why Bill Heinrich, Species Restoration Manager for The Peregrine Fund, is working to restore this species to its former U.S. range.


La Haye, M. J. J., Koelewijn, H. P., Siepel, H., Verwimp, N. and Windig, J. (2012). Genetic rescue and the increase of litter size in the recovery breeding program of the common hamster (Cricetus cricetus) in the Netherlands. Relatedness, inbreeding and heritability of litter size in a breeding program of an endangered rodent. Hereditas, 149: 207–216. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5223.2012.02277.x

King, R. S., Trutwin, J. J., Hunter, T. S. and Varner, D. M. (2013), Effects of environmental stressors on nest success of introduced birds. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.528

Bell, T. J., Powell, K. I. and Bowles, M. L. (2013), Viability model choice affects projection accuracy and reintroduction decisions. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.525

Jachowski, D. S., Slotow, R. and Millspaugh, J. J. (2013), Delayed physiological acclimatization by African elephants following reintroduction. Animal Conservation. doi: 10.1111/acv.12031

HARRINGTON, L. A., MOEHRENSCHLAGER, A., GELLING, M., ATKINSON, R. P. D., HUGHES, J. and MACDONALD, D. W. (2013), Conflicting and Complementary Ethics of Animal Welfare Considerations in Reintroductions. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12021

HUNTER, E. A., GIBBS, J. P., CAYOT, L. J. and TAPIA, W. (2013), Equivalency of Galápagos Giant Tortoises Used as Ecological Replacement Species to Restore Ecosystem Functions. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12038

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Learning from non-conservation translocations: "Conspecifics can be aliens too..."

I was very glad to receive the paper featured in this post from one of the co-authors, Jocelyn Champagnon, as this review has some important conclusions to draw in terms of restocking practices. The authors have not restricted themselves to looking at restocking for conservation purposes only, instead, they draw on a range of reasons that result in the mixing of conspecifics from wild and captive sources and their conclusions are all the more valuable as a result.  These release events include making a target population of a threatened species viable, enhancing future harvests of for example, game birds, unintentional escapes from fish farms and fur farms and releases motivated by an ethical standpoint on animal welfare.  These and other reasons for release are described in the paper in a useful and enlightening summary that really opened my eyes to the diversity of reasons that can result in conspecifics from captive and wild populations mixing.

The review summarises the effects of restocking (intentionally or not) on wild and translocated individuals using 233 studies to provide a thorough overview of the possible implications. The explanations are too detailed to cover here but include behavioural, genetic, demographic and pathogenic impacts, both positive and negative for both wild and captive-bred individuals. Of particular interest to me were revelations on dispersal behaviour; in mobile species captive-bred individuals tend to disperse further than their wild counterparts. This means that the intended positive effects of restocking e.g. improved social interactions, are not attained and furthermore, the captive-bred animals are more likely to perish during migration, select unsuitable habitat, and fail to breed.  Another interesting finding is that population trends may be positive due to the introduction of new individuals to the group but practitioners should be aware that this might mask underlying problems. Mixing many individuals in one site might result in better demographic and social dynamics but if the reason for decline is unfavourable habitat, eventually the captive-bred animals may also succumb in time.

As part of the conservation translocation community, I think we would benefit by wider adoption of the following recommendations adapted from the paper:
  • Avoid selection in captivity.
  • Choose genetic strains that are as close as possible to wild target populations
  • Vaccination and diseas screening should be routine practice.
  • There is an urgent need for monitoring the size, duration and success of restocking events and this would be enhanced if individuals were identifiable using e.g. tags or rings etc.
  • Policy-makers and managers need to encourage studies that reduce research bias e.g. addressing the lack of rigorous studies on harvest enhancing interventions.
  • Practitioners in conservation, game management, fisheries, epidemiology and other relevant fields would benefit by working across disciplines.
By using restocking events from a range of motivations and circumstances, Jocelyn and her co-authors have added weight to the idea that translocations for non-conservation purposes have much to teach us when using translocations to effect conservation benefit. Ultimately, mixing wild and captive-bred individuals will impact upon each other regardless of how well-intentioned the motivation, if it is intentional at all. Augmenting wild populations have many positive and negative impacts but it is critical to realise that most of the effects covered here are unintended and unforeseen. The process of removing individuals from the wild has the effect of altering traits, or at least, their offspring's traits, resulting in a markedly different animal. Many of these problems are familiar from invasive species biology but with the added problem that genetic and behavioural barriers that normally occur between wild animals and non-native invasives are not there. As the title of the paper neatly states, conspecifics can be aliens too and this comes with all the associated problems of invasive non-natives and more.

For the full paper (and I'd recommend that you read the full thing) please contact Jocelyn by email or download using the following citation:

Champagnon, J., Elmberg, J., Guillemain, M., Gauthier-Clerc, M., & Lebreton, J.-D. (2012). Conspecifics can be aliens too: A review of effects of restocking practices in vertebrates. Journal for Nature Conservation, 20(4), 231–241. doi:10.1016/j.jnc.2012.02.002

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Translocation digest - March 2013

Translocation projects:

Request to participate in a reintroduction survey:
My MSc. student, Erzsébet Óhegyi is writing her thesis on the funding of reintroduction programmes.
She has developed an online questionnaire - she would be very grateful if you could fill it up with data on your programme:
The results will hopefully be published in an international publication.
Thank you in advance for your help!
Best regards:
Bálint Bajomi

NACD Comments on FWS Black-Footed Ferret Reintroduction Proposal
The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) submitted comments in response to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) draft guidance for reintroduction of the Black-Footed Ferret under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Draft Black-Footed ...



11th International Mammalogical Congress 2013, 11 - 16 August 2013, Queen's University Belfast, UK
Symposium: Reintroductions: objectives, methods and obstacles (Grogan, USGS; Schoenecker, USGS)

AWMS (Australasian Society for Wildlife Management) 2013, Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Conference theme: "Advances in Reintroduction of Australasian Fauna 1993-2013"

The main motivation for this theme is that it is now 20 years since the successful 1993 conference on “Reintroduction biology of Australian and New Zealand fauna”, which in turn led to the book of the same name edited by Melody Serena. It is therefore timely to review the many innovations and research advances that have been made over the last 20 years, and discuss future challenges and directions.

Although our focus is on Australasia, some of you from outside the region may be keen to find out more about what is happening here and/or provide some international perspective.  The International Marine Mammal Conference is being held in Dunedin from 9-13 December, so this could be an additional incentive for some of you to visit New Zealand.

Further information is available at the conference website (, and you can go on the mailing list for announcements by contacting

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Developing new translocation code for Scotland - a community driven approach?

I have recently begun a contract working with Scottish Natural Heritage, the government agency for nature conservation, and the National Species Reintroduction Forum (NSRF), also in Scotland.  The NSRF is chaired by SNH but consists of a real mix interested parties including conservationists that want to explore ambitious translocation projects, and land owners who are cautious about reintroductions and the implications this has for how they manage their properties.  I've been contracted to produce a code for conservation translocations and a document that details what makes best practice when moving plants and animals for conservation purposes.

In my preparations so far, I've gone back to the IUCN guidelines that I co-authored, and looked in detail again at the best practice guidelines for plant reintroductions presented by Joyce Maschinski and co-authors (in Maschinski & Haskins 2012). These, and other guideline documents I've seen, use a combination of a document containing the key principles with an often longer document or detailed sub-sections, that contain more of the explanatory and/or contextual detail.  In some published literature, decision trees are used to simplify the justification of a reintroduction attempt, in other sources, a simple list of yes/no questions does the same job.

Part of my contract is to ensure that the NSRF is involved in the production of the code and guidance document.  I want to make sure that this is a genuine process of stakeholder engagement and that the NSRF has a sense of ownership of the outputs.  However, all the guidance documents I've been involved in have resulted from a group of conservationists (admittedly including biologists, social scientists, and ethics and legislation experts) producing the guidance and not involving stakeholders such as community groups and land owners/managers until a more or less complete draft has been written.  In some cases, the guidelines are simply aimed at other conservation practitioners and the stakeholders aren't involved except to be consulted when a specific translocation is planned.  The most inclusive example I've seen is the New Zealand guidelines which are the most community-friendly because they make translocations accessible to anyone who would like to explore the feasibility of moving a plant or animal into their local area.  Again though, this isn't a case of involving stakeholders in the development of the actual guidelines themselves - they are still issued by the government department with responsibility for conservation.

So, what works best?  How do you get a diverse group of people and organisations to agree on a code of conduct? And how do we genuinely incorporate their views when we can only meet all interested parties on one occasion?  My first idea is to ask exactly what format would suit the NSRF by presenting some of the examples I've described above but if anyone has any other ideas, please contact me!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Translocation digest - February 2013

Translocation projects:

Sariska to get another tiger after gap of two years
Daily Bhaskar
But, in the last two years, no tiger was translocated to Sariska. Now, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has given a green signal to move a tigress from Ranthambhore.

Cattlemen ask Obama Administration to delay ferret reintroduction plan
WASHINGTON, January 15, 2013 - The United States Cattlemen's Association (USCA) and other agricultural groups say they need more time to study a controversial plan toreintroduce black-footed ferrets in 12 western states through an "enhancement of 
of survival" permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

A predator's tale: Reintroducing wolves to Oregon has a history that's as ...
La Grande Observer
The road to reintroducing the wolf has been a long and often bumpy one.

Rule Change Designed To Help With Steelhead Reintroduction - KlCC
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is changing a designation to help with thereintroduction of Steelhead to Central Oregon. The NOAA rule ...

Appeals court upholds Colo. wolf reintroduction decision || Red ...
The overgrown elk population of Rocky Mountain National Park has been kept in check for years by volunteers who shoot the animals, and it's likely to stay that ...

reintroduction news | The Return of Native Nordic Fauna
European bison (aka the wisent, Bison bonasus) are now in the wild in Germany for the first time since 1746, according to a news article from Christmas


Causes of reintroduction failure of the brown treecreeper ...

Victoria A. Bennett1,*,; Veronica A. J. Doerr2,4,; Erik D. Doerr2,4,; Adrian D. Manning1,; David B. Lindenmayer1,; Hwan-Jin Yoon3. Article first published online: ...

Turlure, C., Radchuk, V., Baguette, M., Meijrink, M., Van den Burg, A., De Vries, M. W., & Van Duinen, G.-J. (2012). Plant quality and local adaptation undermine relocation in a bog specialist butterfly. Ecology and Evolution, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1002/ece3.427
Freemantle, T. P., Wacher, T., Newby, J., & Pettorelli, N. (2013). Earth observation: overlooked potential to support species reintroduction programmes. African Journal of Ecology, n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/aje.12060

Naish, K. A., Seamons, T. R., Dauer, M. B., Hauser, L. and Quinn, T. P. (2013), Relationship between effective population size, inbreeding and adult fitness-related traits in a steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) population released in the wild. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/mec.12185


Assisted Migration: A primer for Reforestation and Restoration ...

Title: Assisted Migration: A primer for Reforestation and Restoration Decision Makers Location: World Forestry Center, Portland, OR Date: February 21, 2013 ...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Planning translocations under a changing climate

Just before Christmas I attended the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting at the University of Birmingham and saw a talk by Alienor Chauvenet of ZSL. Her talk, entitled 'Planning translocations under a changing climate' used the example of the hihi, Notiomystis cincta, to explore some ideas she originally proposed in her paper in Animal Conservation last year (reference below).

Chauvenet noted, as I have in my systematic review of plant reintroductions, that climate change is very rarely cited as a motivation for undertaking translocations. However, climate change is not an issue that should be only be tackled when we discuss the pros and cons of assisted colonisation and other types of conservation introduction. Climate change has the potential to irreversibly alter the distribution of suitable habitat and therefore, needs to be accounted for in translocation projects whether it is a reintroduction or an introduction to new sites.

Both her paper and the BES talk propose a combination of methods to ensure that site selection in translocation projects maximises the success of reintroductions and assisted colonization under climate change. The strength of using a variety of methods to attempt to select translocation sites is made clear in

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Translocations and genetics - a simple summary of a complex subject

This may be a bit of a cop out but I wanted to blog about some of the issues surrounding genetics and translocations and found this post on the excellent Conservation Bytes blog run by Corey Bradshaw.  The author, Dr Salvador Herrando-Perez, has done a much better job than I could so I encourage you to follow the link below:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Interdisciplinarity and definitions of reintroduction

I’m sure many of the readers of this blog will be aware of the importance of interdisciplinarity in finding solutions to environmental challenges.  However, I admit that when I was working on the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and Conservation Translocations, I felt that we were writing for an audience of conservation practitioners and while this involved using plain English, it required little consideration of disciplines beyond ecology.  Just how narrow my perspective was, was made clear to me when I attempted to respond to a paper by an environmental historian, Dolly Jørgensen (2011) on the concept of historic range.  The subtlety of the difference between 'historical range' and 'native range ... in historic times' was quite an eye-opener especially if you followed her arguments to conclusion to look at the impact it might have on translocation practice.

On her recommendation, we have adopted the term ‘indigenous range’ as a replacement for the problematic concept of historic range but I found that writing the first the definition of indigenous range was very challenging.  The process of honing this key definition was made much more rigorous by the thought processes I went through in responding to Jørgensen's paper (Dalrymple & Moehrenschlager 2013). Whilst we didn't agree with all her assertions, the process of being challenged was constructive and insightful.

So my message today is that interdisciplinarity is important because it has the potential to throw in a wildcard - something you can't predict but should still be responding to.  It challenges and ultimately improves our actions and in the potentially emotive arena of conservation translocations it should be something we all incorporate from the outset of any species recovery attempt.

Dalrymple, S. E., & Moehrenschlager, A. (2013). “Words matter.” A Response to Jørgensen’s Treatment of Historic Range and Definitions of Reintroduction. Restoration Ecology. doi:10.1111/j.1526-100X.2012.00932.x

Jørgensen, D. (2011). What’s History Got to Do with It? A Response to Seddon's Definition of Reintroduction. Restoration Ecology, 19(6), 705–708. doi:10.1111/j.1526-100X.2011.00834.x

Monday, 7 January 2013

Translocation digest - January 2013

This post is the first of a new monthly digest which will feature brief descriptions of translocation projects and related news.  As those of you who regularly read my blog will know, most of my posts cover a journal article or news story on a particular species or aspect of translocation practice. However, this doesn't do justice to the number of ongoing projects there are and the monthly digest aims to represent this.  As ever, please let me know if you want any projects featuring in the digest or as a longer post - I'm hoping this addition will prove valuable to the translocation community so feedback always welcome.

Translocation projects:

Bighorn sheep not being reintroduced into Bridger Mountains yet
KTVQ Billings News
Instead of an immediate reintroduction, FWP plans to work with sheep owners in the Bridgers to help reduce the risk of contact between domestic and Bighorn sheep. The aim will be to create a better opportunity for success with a future reintroduction.
Kihansi Spray Toad Reintroduced into its Native Habitat
Student Operated Press
The Wildlife Conservation Society`s Bronx Zoo, the Toledo Zoo, Tanzanian government, World Bank and other partners have reintroduced 2,000 Kihansi spray toads into the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania.

Changing locations fail to mitigate man-beast conflict, says ...
The Sunday Times Sri Lanka
By Kumudini Hettiarachchi Translocation of elephants, undertaken to mitigate the human-elephant conflict and conserve elephants, does not reduce the 
conflict or save elephants but causes an increase in the conflict and deaths of elephants, is the surprising finding of a study conducted in Sri Lanka.


Sarah E. Dalrymple & Axel Moehrenschlager (2013).
"Words matter." A response to Jorgensen's treatment of historic range and definitions of reintroduction.
RESTORATION ECOLOGY vol 20 (6) DOI:101111/j. 1526-100X.2012.00932.x

Turlure, C., Radchuk, V., Baguette, M., Meijrink, M., van den Burg, A., De Vries, M. W. and van Duinen, G.-J. (2012), 
Plant quality and local adaptation undermine relocation in a bog specialist butterfly. 
Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.427

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Reintroduction or ecological replacement? Or both?

Firstly, happy new year and apologies for the break in posts as a result of my baby girl falling ill (she's now better) and Christmas. Normal weekly service will now resume and I have a backlog of posts to bring you of which this is the first.

The idea for this post was prompted by a widely-reported paper on the genetic legacy of Lonesome George, the last known purebred individual of Chelonoidis abingdoni, or Galapagos giant tortoise native to Pinta Island (Edwards et al. 2013, authors webpage here). The discovery of individuals with very similar genetic ancestry on another island (Isabela Island) provides hope that hybrids with C. abingdoni parents could be taken into captive breeding programmes to produce tortoises that might be translocated to 'back' Pinta Island. The authors suggest an interesting strategy of tiered translocation whereby any individuals with a very high genetic similarity to the extinct Pinta Island tortoises are saved for the captive breeding whilst hybrids that are further removed (offspring of hybrids rather than purebreds) are moved directly to Pinta, the former constituting reintroduction albeit with a little genetic mixing, the latter being an example of ecological replacement (see page on definitions). This would be motivated by the need to restore giant tortoises as ecosystem engineers and would hopefully improve the habitat quality prior to release of the 'purer' individuals.

On reading this, I went back to another paper from three years ago (Hansen et al. 2010) in which the authors discuss the pros and cons of a range of translocations of large and giant tortoises. Back then, Lonesome George had mated unsuccessfully with females of a similar subspecies but there was still hope that