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