Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 12, Issue 3–4, pp 359–370 | Cite as

History of weta (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae) translocation in New Zealand: lessons learned, islands as sanctuaries and the future

  • Corinne Watts
  • Ian Stringer
  • Greg Sherley
  • George Gibbs
  • Chris Green
Original Paper


Establishing new populations by transferring founder individuals from source populations has been effective for managing the recovery of many threatened species including some weta (Orthoptera: Anostostomatidae) in New Zealand. These large-bodied flightless insects are ‘flagship species’ for insect conservation in New Zealand and many are rare or threatened. The declining abundance of most weta species, particularly giant weta, can be attributed to the introduction of mammalian predators, habitat destruction, and habitat modification by introduced mammalian browsers. New populations of some weta have been established in locations, particularly on islands, where these threats have been eliminated or severely reduced in order to reduce the risk of extinction. Some populations were established to provide food for endemic vertebrates, ecosystem restoration and ready access for the general public. We illustrate how methods for both transferring weta and monitoring them have become more sophisticated by using a series of case studies. Other transfers of weta not included in the case studies are also summarised. We conclude by re-iterating the importance of documenting the transfer and post-release monitoring for all insect transfers, both for biogeographical reasons and to provide information to improve future transfers.


Orthoptera Anostostomatidae New Zealand Threatened species Insects Recovery Restoration 



This review was partly funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology New Zealand (under contract C09X0508) and by the Department of Conservation (Investigation No. 4034). We thank Mike Bowie, Mike Aviss and Gail Sutton for providing information on the unpublished weta transfers. Dave Towns, Doug Armstrong and two anonymous referees provided useful comments on the draft manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corinne Watts
    • 1
  • Ian Stringer
    • 2
  • Greg Sherley
    • 2
  • George Gibbs
    • 3
  • Chris Green
    • 4
  1. 1.Landcare ResearchHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of ConservationWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesVictoria UniversityWellingtonNew Zealand
  4. 4.Department of ConservationNewtonNew Zealand

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