Physiological response after translocation differs between source populations in a threatened mammal

Kelly S. Williams-Kelly, Laurence Berry, Kim Branch, Saul Cowen, Sean Garretson, Greg J. Holland, Rachel Ladd, Liberty Olds, Kelly Rayner, Colleen Sims, Leanne Van Der Weyde, Kylie A. Robert, Kerry V. Fanson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conservation translocations are an important tool in the prevention of species loss, but the translocation process is associated with numerous stressors. Non-invasively monitoring stress physiology via faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGMs) can provide valuable insights into factors impacting translocation success and how to mitigate negative impacts. After validating an assay to measure FGMs in greater stick-nest rats (Leporillus conditor), we examined whether translocation caused a predictable change in physiology. We compared longer-term (one to five months post-translocation) physiological responses across three source populations (remnant-wild, reintroduced-wild, captive-bred), and investigated effects of body condition and sex on FGMs. Notably, FGMs of the remnant-wild population did not significantly change post-translocation, while the reintroduced-wild population exhibited a significant decrease and the captive-bred population a significant increase. Individuals in lower body condition had the highest FGMs in both wild-type populations, whereas the captive-bred population showed the opposite relationship. There was no difference in FGMs between the sexes. Our work highlights that physiological responses after translocation may not be uniform and source population history is an important factor to be considered, emphasizing the need for novel ideas that facilitate successful adaptation. By better understanding how species and individuals respond to translocation, we can improve translocation outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number230836
Number of pages15
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2023


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