European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 59, Issue 5, pp 749–760 | Cite as

There is no place like home: high homing rate and increased mortality after translocation of a small mammal

  • Nélida R. Villaseñor
  • Martín A. H. Escobar
  • Cristián F. Estades
Original Paper


Animal translocation is a popular tool in wildlife management. It is frequently used to solve human–animal conflicts and recently has been applied as a mitigation tool when animals inhabit land desired for development. However, its success is uncertain and involves risks. In order to provide useful information to wildlife managers about the effect of translocation distance on animal movement behavior and survival, we translocated 40 Long-haired field mice (Abrothrix longipilis) at different distances from their territories (0–1,300 m) in central Chile and recorded the location and survival of each mouse over 3 days. Translocated animals showed low release site fidelity and traveled two- to four-fold longer distances than the nontranslocated group. Only mice translocated at shorter distances (100 m) oriented their movement toward their origin site and had a high probability of homing (80 %). There were threshold distances from after which homing and traveling strongly decreased. All individuals released close to their capture site (≤100 m) remained alive, while mortality reached 22 % at longer translocation distances, principally as a result of fighting between rodents. Therefore, long translocation distances prevented short-term homing and decreased traveled distances (a desirable outcome), but risks associated with conspecific encounters need to be avoided. Because mice showed a high motivation to explore surroundings, it is advisable to release animals in sites with alternative places to colonize. Our results emphasize the need for a strong justification in wildlife translocation projects and the development of alternative techniques to improve animal welfare and conservation.


Abrothrix longipilis Movement behavior Radiotelemetry Relocation Rodent Survival Wildlife management 



We thank R. Thomson, S. Uribe, D. Mandaçovic, V. Latorre, R. Urbina, and H. Salinas who helped with fieldwork. J. Wood and W. Blanchard provided us advice with some statistical analysis. A. Kuenzi, B. Scheele, P. Gibbons, and three anonymous reviewers made important suggestion to a previous manuscript. This study was conducted under capture permit 2944 from Agrarian and Livestock Service (SAG), Chile granted to CFE. NRV was supported by a CONICYT grant during her MSc studies. Funding for this study was provided by FIA project number PI-C-2003-1-F-051 (CFE) and FONDECYT project number 1080463 (CFE). Forestal MASISA S.A. kindly granted us access to their property and provided us with cartography layers and some logistic support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nélida R. Villaseñor
    • 1
    • 2
  • Martín A. H. Escobar
    • 1
  • Cristián F. Estades
    • 1
  1. 1.Wildlife Ecology Laboratory, School of Forest Sciences and Nature ConservationUniversidad de ChileLa PintanaChile
  2. 2.The Fenner School of Environment and SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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