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Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 229–243 | Cite as

Searching for an effective pre-release screening tool for translocations: can trap temperament predict behaviour and survival in the wild?

  • R. S. WestEmail author
  • D. T. Blumstein
  • M. Letnic
  • K. E. Moseby
Original Paper

Abstract

Individuals often respond to threatening situations in consistently different ways and these differences may predict later translocation success. Thus, the ability to easily identify these differences prior to translocation may assist in improving conservation outcomes. We asked whether burrowing bettongs (Bettongia lesueur), a marsupial species that has undergone significant decline since the introduction of exotic predators to Australia, responded in consistently different ways to capture in traps, and if so, whether this was related to anti-predator behaviour, ranging behaviour and survival following translocation. Behavioural responses of 40 bettongs were measured and included response to removal from traps (trap docility), latency to leave a trap or bag and escape behaviour upon release. We used flight initiation distance to measure escape behaviour, and distance moved from diurnal refuges during nocturnal foraging to measure ranging behaviour. Survival was measured through radiotracking after release. Behaviours scored during removal from a trap were consistent and repeatable, and formed a behavioural syndrome with anti-predator and ranging behaviour. Less docile bettongs foraged closer to refuges and had longer flight initiation distances. Less docile bettongs were also more likely to survive after release, although the sample size of mortalities was small. Our results suggest that behaviours scored during trapping could be a useful metric for pre-release screening in translocation programs to enhance the chances of individual survival post-release.

Keywords

Personality Anti-predator behaviour Pre-release screening Reintroduction Burrowing bettong Translocation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This study was conducted at Arid Recovery, a private conservation organisation supported by BHP Billiton, The University of Adelaide, South Australian Department of Environment and the local community. Our work was supported by the Australian Research Council (ARC Linkage Grant: LP 130100173) and Arid Recovery. We are indebted to D. Williams, C. Lynch, Z. Richardson and R. Pedler for assistance in the field. Ethics approval was obtained from the South Australian Wildlife Ethics Committee, permit no. 1/2014M2. We thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for astute comments that helped to improve the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Arid Recovery Ltd.Roxby DownsAustralia

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