The importance of post-translocation monitoring of habitat use and population growth: insights from a Seychelles Warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis) translocation

Thomas F Johnson, Thomas J Brown, David S Richardson, Hannah L Dugdale

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Abstract

Translocations are a valuable tool within conservation, and when performed successfully can rescue species from extinction. However, to label a translocation a success, extensive post-translocation monitoring is required, ensuring the population is growing at the expected rate. In 2011, a habitat assessment identified Frégate Island as a suitable island to host a Seychelles Warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis) population. Later that year, 59 birds were translocated from Cousin Island to Frégate Island. Here, we determine Seychelles Warbler habitat use and population growth on Frégate Island, assessing the status of the translocation and identifying any interventions that may be required. We found that territory quality, an important predictor of fledgling production on Cousin Island, was a poor predictor of bird presence on Frégate Island. Instead, tree diversity, middle-storey vegetation density, and broad-leafed vegetation density all predicted bird presence positively. A habitat suitability map based on these results suggests most of Frégate Island contains either a suitable or a moderately suitable habitat, with patches of unsuitable overgrown coconut plantation. To achieve the maximum potential Seychelles Warbler population size on Frégate Island, we recommend habitat regeneration, such that the highly diverse subset of broad-leafed trees and a dense middle storey should be protected and replace the unsuitable coconut. Frégate Island’s Seychelles Warbler population has grown to 141 birds since the release, the slowest growth rate of all Seychelles Warbler translocations; the cause of this is unclear. This study highlights the value of post-translocation monitoring, identifying habitat use and areas requiring restoration, and ultimately ensuring that the population is growing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439–446
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Volume159
Issue number2
Early online date23 Nov 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Post-translocation monitoring
  • Habitat suitability
  • Occupancy modelling
  • Seychelles Warbler
  • Population growth

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