Changes in locomotor and foraging skills in captive-born, reintroduced golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia rosalia)

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Abstract

The behavior of reintroduced, captive-born animals is understudied, limiting the scientific understanding and utility of reintroduction as a conservation tool. This work describes changes in locomotor and foraging behaviors in captive-born golden lion tamarins over the first 18 months after their release into the wild. The subjects included 73 individuals living in and around the Poco das Antas Biological Reserve in Brazil between 1984 and 1996. The differences between animals that survived 6 months after release and those that did not indicate that initial deficiencies in locomotor and foraging abilities are related to survival. Behavioral changes in both juvenile and adult individuals during the first 6 and 18 months after release appear to be primarily related to locomotor abilities; however, the effect of provisioning on foraging abilities is unknown. Juvenile animals showed a larger number of changes relative to adults during the first 6 and 18 months, suggesting that placing tamarins into complex environments early in development may promote the expression of natural behaviors and increase survival opportunities after their release. However, when this is not possible, the best mechanism for reintroducing adult members of this species involves intensive post-release support rather than pre-release training, which confers few behavioral advantages. Recommendations for future reintroductions with this and other species include introducing animals to complex environments early in development, and collecting data systematically. Am. J. Primatol. 62:1–13, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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