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Roadmap to recovery revealed through the reintroduction of an IUCN Red List species

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posted on 2024-05-06, 06:05 authored by BA Wilson, MJ Evans, Iain GordonIain Gordon, JC Pierson, BM Brockett, C Wimpenny, WG Batson, J Newport, AD Manning
Reintroductions are powerful tools for tackling biodiversity loss, but the resulting populations can be intrinsically small and vulnerable. It is therefore critical to maximise the number of individuals that are available to contribute to recovery efforts. To address this, we investigated how demographic parameters from a reintroduced population can reveal threats to long-term persistence, inform thresholds for management interventions, and create targets for removing an endangered species from the IUCN Red List. We calculated capture-mark-recapture population estimates for eastern quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus) which had been reintroduced to a fenced reserve in the Australian Capital Territory. We then incorporated the resulting demographic parameters into population viability analyses (PVAs) to estimate probabilities of persistence under several scenarios, including supplementations and harvests (removal of individuals for translocation to other locations). After determining sustainable harvest rates, we then ‘back-cast’ the population size and occupancy area required to remove the species from the IUCN Red List within 10 years. Our demographic results indicated high mean apparent survival (90% ± 5), and PVAs revealed the probability of persistence over a 50-year time horizon was 50.5% with no interventions, 0% when the population was harvested of > 6 individuals, and 100% if harvests ≤ 54 juveniles were combined with an annual supplementation of ten maternal females (with ≤ 6 young each). Based on this model, a total harvest area of 413 km2 and an occupancy area of 437 km2 would be needed to recover the species within 10 years (i.e., 90 similar fenced reserves, not accounting for edge effects). Due to the inherent difficulty in securing large areas for species recovery, we see these ambitious targets as a call to create coordinated and collaborative sanctuary networks where species can be managed as a metapopulation across multiple sites. By taking advantage of a rapid life history and harvesting the ‘doomed surplus’, managers can achieve their stretch goals for species recovery in the long term.

History

Volume

32

Issue

1

Start Page

227

End Page

248

Number of Pages

22

eISSN

1572-9710

ISSN

0960-3115

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Additional Rights

CC-BY

Language

en

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • Yes

Acceptance Date

2022-10-20

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Journal

Biodiversity and Conservation

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