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Translocation to a fragmented landscape: survival, movement, and site fidelity of Northern Bobwhites


Terhune, Theron M.
Sisson, D. Clay
Palmer, William E.
Stribling, H. Lee
Carroll, John P.


Habitat fragmentation, degradation, and loss have taxed early-successional species including the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and numerous grassland obligate birds. Translocation is often applied to counteract the consequences of habitat fragmentation through the creation, reestablishment, or augmentation of wild populations for the purposes of conservation, biodiversity maintenance. However, the implementation of these techniques is often conducted without valid experimental designs and therefore lacks robust, empirical data needed to evaluate and advance the knowledge and application of translocation. Despite the increasing amount of habitat management applied to patches among fragmented landscapes, a paucity of source populations often limits natural (re)colonization. As such, translocation may serve as a surrogate to natural dispersal, but its efficacy among fragmented landscapes is uncertain. Few studies exist that have assessed site fidelity, movement, and survival of individuals following translocation among fragmented landscapes. Thus, we experimentally evaluated the efficacy of translocation using known-fate and multi-strata models to evaluate hypotheses of temporal, biological, and group effects on survival and movement of translocated and resident bobwhites. We did not detect differences in survival or movement between translocated and resident bobwhites, suggesting that movement of individuals to a fragmented habitat does not negatively influence these demographic attributes. Based on these data, we suggest that two site-specific criteria should be met prior to instituting translocation: habitat management should be conducted to ensure that quality habitat exists and the patch size should be a minimum of 600 ha of quality habitat (poorer sites may warrant even larger patches). Translocation is a viable conservation method for increasing abundance in patches when habitat quality is high but source populations are limited.