Two species, one island: Retrospective analysis of threatened fauna translocations with divergent outcomes

Kelly Rayner, Cheryl A. Lohr, Sean Garretson, Peter Speldewinde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Translocations are globally a popular tool used with the intention of improving threatened species conservation and re-establishing ecosystem function. While practitioners strive for successful outcomes the failure rate of translocations continues to be high. We demonstrate how predictive modelling can contribute to more informed decision making and hence potentially improve the success rate of translocation programs. Two species, the Djoongari (Shark Bay mouse) Pseudomys fieldi and the golden bandicoot Isoodon auratus barrowensis, were introduced independently to Doole Island in the Exmouth Gulf of Western Australia. We used population viability analysis to critique the outcomes of these translocations and provide an example of how this tool can be incorporated with expert knowledge to predict likely outcomes of translocations. Djoongari did not establish on the island after seven translocations over nine years, while golden bandicoots established a population after just one release event. Retrospective population viability analysis (of data that was unavailable prior to the translocations) predicted and clarified the reasons behind the outcomes of both translocations. Golden bandicoots have considerably higher demographic plasticity than Djoongari, which were never likely to establish on the island. We conclude that the failure of the Djoongari translocation was due to interactions between sparse habitat, native predators and cyclonic storm surges, whereas golden bandicoots have demonstrated habitat flexibility and an ability to recover from multiple natural disasters. As a result we (1) remind conservation planners of the importance of quantifying likely refuges and habitat availability at release sites, (2) suggest practitioners consider how different threats (including natural disasters) may interact at potential release sites and (3) advocate for the incorporation of predictive modelling during the planning stages of translocations, particularly for conservation introductions where no precedent exists for the species' survival at a particular location.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0253962
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number7 July
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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