Long-distance translocations to create a second millerbird population and reduce extinction risk
Translocation is a conservation tool used with increasing frequency to create additional populations of threatened species. In addition to following established general guidelines for translocations, detailed planning to account for unique circumstances and intensive post-release monitoring to document outcomes and guide management are essential components of these projects. Recent translocation of the critically endangered Nihoa millerbird (Acrocephalus familiaris kingi) provides an example of this planning and monitoring. The Nihoa millerbird is a passerine bird endemic to Nihoa Island in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The closely related, ecologically similar Laysan millerbird (Acrocephalus familiaris familiaris) went extinct on Laysan Island in the early 20th century when the island was denuded by introduced rabbits. To reduce extinction risk, we translocated 50 adult Nihoa millerbirds more than 1000 km by sea to Laysan, which has recovered substantially in the past century and has ample habitat and a rich prey-base for millerbirds. Following five years of intensive background research and planning, including development of husbandry techniques, fundraising, and regulatory compliance, translocations occurred in 2011 and 2012. Of 11 females in each cohort, 8 (2011 cohort) and 11 (2012 cohort) produced at least one brood of fledglings during their first year on Laysan. At the conclusion of monitoring in September 2014, 37 of the translocated birds were known to survive, and the population was estimated at 164 birds. The reintroduction of millerbirds to Laysan represents a milestone in the island's ongoing restoration.
|Long-distance translocations to create a second millerbird population and reduce extinction risk
|National Wildlife Health Center
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