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Planning for Species Translocations and Reintroductions Reed F. Noss University of Central Florida.

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Presentation on theme: "Planning for Species Translocations and Reintroductions Reed F. Noss University of Central Florida."— Presentation transcript:

1 Planning for Species Translocations and Reintroductions Reed F. Noss University of Central Florida

2 Why Translocate or Reintroduce Populations? Many regions have suffered local extinctions Many regions have suffered local extinctions Missing species sometimes played critical roles in their ecosystems, so reintroduction can restore those functions Missing species sometimes played critical roles in their ecosystems, so reintroduction can restore those functions Reintroductions can increase the range and overall population size of species, enhancing probability of persistence (so, reintroduction usually part of recovery plans) Reintroductions can increase the range and overall population size of species, enhancing probability of persistence (so, reintroduction usually part of recovery plans) Many extant populations are small and inbred, so translocations can restore genetic integrity and fitness Many extant populations are small and inbred, so translocations can restore genetic integrity and fitness Translocation can potentially save individuals that would otherwise be lost to development Translocation can potentially save individuals that would otherwise be lost to development Humans have an ethical obligation to restore what we have degraded Humans have an ethical obligation to restore what we have degraded

3 Be Cautious! Many translocations and reintroductions are failures (e.g., 56% - 89% of translocations failed; Griffith et al. 1989, Beck et al. 1994) Many translocations and reintroductions are failures (e.g., 56% - 89% of translocations failed; Griffith et al. 1989, Beck et al. 1994) A review of 91 herpetile translocations from found that 42% were successful, 28% failed, and 29% had unknown success (Germano and Bishop 2008). A review of 91 herpetile translocations from found that 42% were successful, 28% failed, and 29% had unknown success (Germano and Bishop 2008). Translocations to established populations can lead to outbreeding depression or disease transmission (to the same or related species) Translocations to established populations can lead to outbreeding depression or disease transmission (to the same or related species) Long-term studies are required before deeming any translocation a “success” – at least several decades for long-lived species Long-term studies are required before deeming any translocation a “success” – at least several decades for long-lived species

4 Steps in Translocation Feasibility study Feasibility study Preparation phase Preparation phase Release phase Release phase Monitoring and evaluation phase Monitoring and evaluation phase Ask critical questions: Why is reintroduction needed? Will the reintroduced population be viable? Ask critical questions: Why is reintroduction needed? Will the reintroduced population be viable?

5 Factors that Influence Reintroduction Success Rigorous planning, including consideration of habitat suitability, landscape context, and long- term population viability Rigorous planning, including consideration of habitat suitability, landscape context, and long- term population viability Demographic and genetic characteristics of translocated individuals (and recipient population, if extant) Demographic and genetic characteristics of translocated individuals (and recipient population, if extant) Use of wild-born vs. captive-reared individuals Use of wild-born vs. captive-reared individuals Number of individuals released Number of individuals released Release into core or periphery of range Release into core or periphery of range Controlling or eliminating factors that extirpated the species originally Controlling or eliminating factors that extirpated the species originally Commitment to manage habitat and (if necessary) the population indefinitely Commitment to manage habitat and (if necessary) the population indefinitely

6 Rigorous Planning: Include Empirical Assessments and Modeling Field habitat evaluations in donor and recipient sites Field habitat evaluations in donor and recipient sites Habitat suitability modeling – ideally, based on empirical data from extant populations in the same region Habitat suitability modeling – ideally, based on empirical data from extant populations in the same region Spatially-explicit population modeling Spatially-explicit population modeling Consideration of alternative future scenarios Consideration of alternative future scenarios Validation and revision of models based on new information Validation and revision of models based on new information

7 Or other surrogate of prey productivity

8 Demographic potential of wolves under current landscape conditions and moderate mortality risk scenario, as predicted by PATCH. Areas in yellow have <50% probability of occupancy. From: Carroll (in prep).

9 Demographic potential of wolves under future (2025) landscape conditions and moderate mortality risk scenario. From: Carroll (in prep).

10 Predicted recolonization potential for wolves under current landscape conditions and moderate Canadian mortality risk scenario, assuming a 250 km/yr maximum dispersal distance over 200 years. From: Carroll (in prep).

11 Predicted recolonization potential for wolves under current landscape conditions and moderate Canadian mortality risk scenario, assuming a 1500 km/yr maximum dispersal distance over 200 years. From: Carroll (in prep).

12 Predicted potential for wolf dispersal from a reintroduction site in northern Maine to other areas of the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada under current landscape conditions and moderate mortality risk scenario over 200 years. From: Carroll (in prep).

13 Demographic and genetic characteristics Release juveniles or adults? Release juveniles or adults? Select individuals from a donor population close to recipient site, if possible Select individuals from a donor population close to recipient site, if possible Release a large number of individuals Release a large number of individuals Release a genetically diverse mix of individuals, if possible Release a genetically diverse mix of individuals, if possible If augmentation, analyze genetics of donor and recipient populations to guard against inbreeding and outbreeding depression If augmentation, analyze genetics of donor and recipient populations to guard against inbreeding and outbreeding depression

14 Release Adults or Juveniles? Seemingly more efficient to release adults, as they can breed immediately Seemingly more efficient to release adults, as they can breed immediately However, integrating genetic with demographic considerations, one recent modeling study of griffin vultures found that release of juveniles reduced long-term extinction risk from the accumulation of mutations (Robert et al. 2004) However, integrating genetic with demographic considerations, one recent modeling study of griffin vultures found that release of juveniles reduced long-term extinction risk from the accumulation of mutations (Robert et al. 2004)

15 Wild-born or Captive- reared? Griffith et al. (1989) review of mammal and bird translocations showed greater success with wild-born animals, as expected from selection theory Griffith et al. (1989) review of mammal and bird translocations showed greater success with wild-born animals, as expected from selection theory A few generations of domestication can have negative effects – e.g., for steelhead trout, genetic effects of domestication reduce subsequent reproductive capabilities by ca. 40% per generation when fish are moved to natural environments (Araki et al. 2007) A few generations of domestication can have negative effects – e.g., for steelhead trout, genetic effects of domestication reduce subsequent reproductive capabilities by ca. 40% per generation when fish are moved to natural environments (Araki et al. 2007) However, in some cases (e.g., black-footed ferret) captive breeding is the only choice However, in some cases (e.g., black-footed ferret) captive breeding is the only choice

16 Rapid population growth of black-footed ferrets in Shirley Basin, WY. Releases of captive-born animals ended in Lambda since 2000 estimated as 1.35 (from Grenier et al. 2007)

17 Release into Core of Original Range? Reviews (Griffith et al. 1989, Wolf et al. 1996) suggest release into core of historical range is preferable Reviews (Griffith et al. 1989, Wolf et al. 1996) suggest release into core of historical range is preferable For many mammals and birds, however, ranges have collapsed from the center outward, with peripheral populations persisting (e.g., Lomolino and Channell 1995, 1998) For many mammals and birds, however, ranges have collapsed from the center outward, with peripheral populations persisting (e.g., Lomolino and Channell 1995, 1998) Perhaps peripheral populations are, in sum, adapted to a greater range of conditions and are pre-adapted to anthropogenic disturbance Perhaps peripheral populations are, in sum, adapted to a greater range of conditions and are pre-adapted to anthropogenic disturbance

18 Hard or Soft Release? Hard release – individuals are released immediately into recipient site without any assistance Hard release – individuals are released immediately into recipient site without any assistance Soft release – individuals are released with supplemental food, shelter, etc. or kept penned, then often gradually weaned away from human assistance Soft release – individuals are released with supplemental food, shelter, etc. or kept penned, then often gradually weaned away from human assistance

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20 Site fidelity by penning treatment in gopher tortoises. Dispersers (unshaded) are individuals that travelled > 1 km from core release area without establishing a burrow. (From Tuberville et al. 2005)

21 Control or eliminate the factors that extirpated the species originally! (Caughley’s declining population paradigm)

22 Apply Rigorous Criteria to Evaluate Translocations (Ostermann et al. 2001) Survival and recruitment rates in donor population Survival and recruitment rates in donor population Survival rate of released animals Survival rate of released animals Recruitment rate of released animals Recruitment rate of released animals Growth rate of reintroduced or augmented population (at recipient site) Growth rate of reintroduced or augmented population (at recipient site) Establishment of a viable (self-sustaining) population Establishment of a viable (self-sustaining) population However, as of 1994, less than half of reintroduction projects had been assessed However, as of 1994, less than half of reintroduction projects had been assessed

23 Key Research Questions (Armstrong and Seddon 2007) Population Level How is the establishment probability affected by size and composition of the release group? How is the establishment probability affected by size and composition of the release group? How are post-release survival and dispersal affected by post-release management? How are post-release survival and dispersal affected by post-release management? What conditions are necessary for persistence of the reintroduced population? What conditions are necessary for persistence of the reintroduced population? How will genetic makeup affect persistence of the reintroduced population? How will genetic makeup affect persistence of the reintroduced population?

24 Key Research Questions (cont.) Metapopulation Level How heavily should source populations be harvested? How heavily should source populations be harvested? What is the optimal allocation of translocated individuals among sites? What is the optimal allocation of translocated individuals among sites? Should translocation be used to compensate for isolation? Should translocation be used to compensate for isolation?

25 Key Research Questions (cont.) Ecosystem Level Are the target species/taxon and its parasites native to the ecosystem? Are the target species/taxon and its parasites native to the ecosystem? How will the ecosystem be affected by the target species and its parasites? How will the ecosystem be affected by the target species and its parasites? How does the order of reintroductions affect the ultimate species composition? How does the order of reintroductions affect the ultimate species composition?

26 Gopher Tortoise “Relocations” – the biggest translocation issue in Florida

27 Need for GT Relocations? In Florida, the stronghold of the species, populations have declined 50-60% over the past years In Florida, the stronghold of the species, populations have declined 50-60% over the past years FWC reclassified the GT from SSC to Threatened in 2007, and it is in review for listing as Threatened under the federal ESA (the western population already is listed) FWC reclassified the GT from SSC to Threatened in 2007, and it is in review for listing as Threatened under the federal ESA (the western population already is listed) Incidental take (burying alive) is no longer permitted, and relocations are now the major conservation measure Incidental take (burying alive) is no longer permitted, and relocations are now the major conservation measure

28 History and Future of GT Relocations Relocations began in the 1970s and were permitted by GFC (FWC) since the mid-1980s Relocations began in the 1970s and were permitted by GFC (FWC) since the mid-1980s Virtually no monitoring of relocated populations has occurred Virtually no monitoring of relocated populations has occurred No review of relocation success has been conducted, except a couple local case studies No review of relocation success has been conducted, except a couple local case studies

29 History and Future of GT Relocations (cont.) Since GTs are long-lived, at least 20 years of monitoring post-relocation are needed (Dodd and Siegel 1991) Since GTs are long-lived, at least 20 years of monitoring post-relocation are needed (Dodd and Siegel 1991) Problems identified with past relocations: Problems identified with past relocations: - difficulty identifying suitable recipient sites - movement of tortoises to sites with little or no consideration of population demographics, habitat quality and long-term management - translocation of tortoises to sites later slated for development themselves

30 Problems (cont.) lack of consideration of conservation genetics and potential outbreeding depression lack of consideration of conservation genetics and potential outbreeding depression disruption of resident population social structure and behaviors disruption of resident population social structure and behaviors the tendency for GTs to exhibit homing behavior and low site-fidelity once being moved the tendency for GTs to exhibit homing behavior and low site-fidelity once being moved transmission of disease and parasites transmission of disease and parasites human predation at recipient sites human predation at recipient sites

31 The missing component of GT translocations: commensals! GT burrows provide shelter for ca. 360 other species, including amphibians, reptiles, insects, and mammals, some of which are federally and/or state- listed species and are obligate commensals GT burrows provide shelter for ca. 360 other species, including amphibians, reptiles, insects, and mammals, some of which are federally and/or state- listed species and are obligate commensals Yet, the commensals are not translocated with the tortoises! Yet, the commensals are not translocated with the tortoises!

32 Manage Habitat and (if necessary) the Population Indefinitely Funding must be secure Funding must be secure Performance must be monitored and enforced Performance must be monitored and enforced Net habitat loss must be reversed Net habitat loss must be reversed But 2.7 million acres of natural and semi- natural habitat in Florida is predicted to be lost by 2060 (Zwick and Carr 2006), including at least 700,000 acres of GT habitat (FFWCC 2006) – this will not work!

33 There is a better future possible - a net gain in natural and semi-natural habitat


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