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Choice or opportunity: are post-release social groupings influenced by familiarity or reintroduction protocols?

  • K. E. Moseby (a1), D. T. Blumstein (a2), M. Letnic (a1) and R. West (a1)


The conservation benefits of maintaining social groupings during and after animal translocations are unclear. Although some studies report improved post-release survival, others found no discernible influence on reintroduction success. Understanding the effects of social groupings is difficult because release methods can influence the animals’ ability to maintain social groups. We explored this relationship by first studying whether release protocols influenced post-release cohesion in the communal burrowing bettong Bettongia lesueur, and then investigating whether maintenance of social cohesion conferred any post-release advantage. We released bettongs into a small (8 ha) and large (2,600 ha) area and compared the proportion that maintained social groupings in the different settings. The proportion of bettongs sharing with previous warren co-occupants was higher than expected by chance in both areas, however, a significantly higher proportion of bettongs maintained social groupings in the small (75%) compared to the large release area (13%). This suggests bettongs prefer to maintain social groupings but are unable to locate members of their group in large release areas. Bettongs that did maintain social groupings showed no difference in reproductive or health outcomes compared to those that formed new social groupings, suggesting no benefit to reintroduction success. We conclude that release protocols can influence post-release cohesion, but that greater cohesion does not necessarily confer advantages to group-living animals. To test the importance of social cohesion, further research on reintroductions should compare post-release parameters for animals released using protocols that do and do not facilitate maintenance of social groupings.


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Also at: Arid Recovery Ltd., Roxby Downs, Australia.



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Choice or opportunity: are post-release social groupings influenced by familiarity or reintroduction protocols?

  • K. E. Moseby (a1), D. T. Blumstein (a2), M. Letnic (a1) and R. West (a1)


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