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An assessment of scientific approaches towards species relocations in Australia



Species relocation programmes are increasingly performed with the intention of establishing a self-sustaining population of threatened or declining native species. However, the use of experimental quantitative approaches in species relocation programmes is still relatively uncommon, despite a number of international studies recommending clear guidelines and standards. This paper evaluates species relocation programmes conducted within Australia to assess how programmes performed in relation to such standards. The search techniques identified 54 species relocation programmes, the majority of which were reintroductions (52%) and supplementations (30%). Only 25 (46%) of the species relocation programmes claimed success, with a lack of effective predator control recognized as contributing to the failure of 14 programmes. There was considerable variation in the quality of species relocation programmes in relation to key features such as whether the programme integrated experimental approaches with testable hypotheses, whether there were explicit statements of criteria for success, whether suitable habitat was identified for the release site and whether long-term monitoring was conducted. We propose guidelines to improve scientific rigour and success rates of species relocation programmes.