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Using movement ecology to inform translocation efforts: a case study with an endangered lekking bird species


  • Editor: Iain Gordon
  • Associate Editor: Vincenzo Penteriani


Dylan C. Kesler, Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, 303N ABNR Building 1105 E Rollins, Columbia, MO 65211, USA. Tel: +1 573 882 0848; Fax: +1 573 884 5070



Translocation projects are often hindered by frequent or long-distance movements made by released animals. Studies identifying how and why animals move after release can inform future translocations and supplement the growing body of literature on translocation biology. We used radiotelemetry to compare movement behavior in 58 resident and 54 translocated endangered greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido) that were collected approximately 500 km from the release area. Translocated birds tended to traverse larger areas than resident birds and their movements were elevated immediately following release. We found no evidence of directional orientation in the movements of translocated birds, and thus concluded that prairie-chickens were not homing toward their original capture locations. Rather, post-translocation movements of greater prairie-chickens were more likely associated with exploration. Our results also suggested that 54% of translocated females and 19% of translocated males may permanently emigrate from a release site. We recommend that greater prairie-chicken conservationists consider summer releases and larger release cohorts to account for the individuals that emigrate from the establishment site. Based on our findings, we further suggest that a greater number of future translocation projects consider the utility of evaluating post-release movements as a means of informing translocation decisions.

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