Neighbourhood watch: do social groupings survive translocation? — ASN Events

Neighbourhood watch: do social groupings survive translocation? (#387)

Rebecca West 1 , Dan Blumstein 2 , John Read 3 , Mike Letnic 1 , Katherine Moseby 4
  1. University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. Ecological Horizons, Kimba, SA, Australia
  4. Arid Recovery, Roxby Downs, SA, Australia

Protocols for reintroducing threatened species vary widely, with many practitioners trialing new methods to improve reintroduction success. Social species may benefit from being released in groups during translocation events, to increase survival, reduce post-release stress and promote faster establishment and breeding. In 2014 we translocated 350 burrowing bettongs (Bettongia lesueur) in arid South Australia by moving groups of animals captured from warrens in the source area (a population established in 1999) to a new release area 10km away. We compared bettong social group structure at each warren before and after release to determine whether social bonds survived translocation. Retention of social groupings was examined at both an individual warren level and within clusters of neighbouring warrens. We also compared bettong breeding rates and condition of animals that remained in pre-release social groupings with those that formed new groupings. We will discuss our findings and potential implications for increasing establishment success when translocating social species.