Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 763–776 | Cite as

Movements, behaviour and survival of adult Cook Strait giant weta (Deinacrida rugosa; Anostostomatidae: Orthoptera) immediately after translocation as revealed by radiotracking

  • Corinne Watts
  • Raewyn Empson
  • Danny Thornburrow
  • Maheswaran Rohan


Giant weta (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae) are large flightless New Zealand insects vulnerable to predation from introduced mammals. Some species have been transferred to islands or mammal-free mainland sanctuaries to establish additional populations. Radiotelemetry was used to investigate behaviour, movements and survival of adult Cook Strait giant weta (Deinacrida rugosa) immediately after translocation into Karori Sanctuary, New Zealand, to describe their initial movements, and to assess the importance of this establishment phase in relation to the long-term viability of the population. The average distance moved between consecutive daytime refuges for translocated male D. rugosa within Karori Sanctuary was significantly further than for resident weta on Matiu-Somes Island. In contrast, translocated female weta moved significantly smaller distances between consecutive daytime refuges within Karori Sanctuary than those on Matiu-Somes Island. Translocated D. rugosa travelled significantly further between consecutive daytime refuges between 19 and 45 days after release than during the first 19 days and more than 45 days of radiotracking. Deinacrida rugosa survived well following translocation and there was only limited evidence of predation despite an increased abundance of indigenous avian and reptilian predators being present, and the presence of low numbers of mice. The establishment potential of this population was not adversely affected by movements and survival of the weta immediately after translocation. It still remains to be seen if a self-sustaining population of D. rugosa develops in Karori Sanctuary but the indications are that the species is present because progeny of the translocated weta are regularly seen within Karori Sanctuary. Radiotelemetry provided valuable insights into the behaviour of adult D. rugosa and it could be appropriate for monitoring other large bodied invertebrates.


Orthoptera Translocation Conservation Radiotelemetry Monitoring New Zealand 



This research was funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (under contract C09X0508), Karori Sanctuary Trust, Endeavour Trust and Weta Workshop. Thanks to Jo Greenman and Matt Sidaway for their help while on Matiu-Somes Island. Weta were caught on Matiu-Somes Island with the help of Greg Sherley, Ian Stringer, Matu Booth, Bernard Smith, Matt Ward, Neil Anderson, Andrew Morrison and Stuart Smith. We thank the numerous people who assisted with radiotracking weta, including Greg Sherley, Ian Stringer, and Lynn Adams (DOC); Anrik Drenth, Gil Roper, Dave Banks, Liz Hibbs, Peter Williams, Helen Griffiths, Jenny Whyte, Phoebe van der Pol, Phillippe Hogemann, Daniel Reger, Veronika Pedrini, Richard Gray, Malcolm Stayner (Karori Sanctuary volunteers); Matu Booth, Matt Ward, Bernard Smith, Neil Anderson, Matt Robertson, Ron Goudswaard, Ken Drayton, Russ Drewry, Andrew Grimes, Rob Cross (Karori Sanctuary staff) and Laura Keenan. We are grateful to Neil Fitzgerald and Craig Briggs (Landcare Research) for assistance with GPS mapping. In-kind support was provided by Alicia and Stephen Lange. George Gibbs, Ian Stringer, John Innes, and Anne Austin provided useful comments on the draft manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corinne Watts
    • 1
  • Raewyn Empson
    • 2
  • Danny Thornburrow
    • 1
  • Maheswaran Rohan
    • 3
  1. 1.Landcare ResearchHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Karori Sanctuary TrustWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Research and Development Group, Department of ConservationHamiltonNew Zealand

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