Mitigation translocation as a management tool

Holly S. Bradley, Sean Tomlinson, Michael D. Craig, Adam T. Cross, Philip W. Bateman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Citations (Web of Science)


Mitigation translocation is a subgroup of conservation translocation, categorized by a crisis-responsive time frame and the immediate goal of relocating individuals threatened with death. However, the relative successes of conservation translocations with longer time frames and broader metapopulation- and ecosystem-level considerations have been used to justify the continued implementation of mitigation translocations without adequate post hoc monitoring to confirm their effectiveness as a conservation tool. Mitigation translocations now outnumber other conservation translocations, and understanding the effectiveness of mitigation translocations is critical given limited global conservation funding especially if the mitigation translocations undermine biodiversity conservation by failing to save individuals. We assessed the effectiveness of mitigation translocations by conducting a quantitative review of the global literature. A total of 59 mitigation translocations were reviewed for their adherence to the adaptive scientific approach expected of other conservation translocations and for the testing of management options to continue improving techniques for the future. We found that mitigation translocations have not achieved their potential as an effective applied science. Most translocations focused predominantly on population establishment- and persistence-level questions, as is often seen in translocations more broadly, and less on metapopulation and ecosystem outcomes. Questions regarding the long-term impacts to the recipient ecosystem (12% of articles) and the carrying capacity of translocation sites (24% of articles) were addressed least often, despite these factors being more likely to influence ultimate success. Less than half (47%) of studies included comparison of different management techniques to facilitate practitioners selecting the most effective management actions for the future. To align mitigation translocations with the relative success of other conservation translocations, it is critical that future mitigation translocations conform to an established experimental approach to improve their effectiveness. Effective mitigation translocations will require significantly greater investment of time, expertise, and resources in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13667
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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