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Carnivore translocations and conservation: insights from population models and field data for fishers (Martes pennanti)Author(s): Jeffrey C. Lewis; Roger A. Powell; William J. Zielinski
Source: PLoS ONE 7(3): e32736
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station
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DescriptionTranslocations are frequently used to restore extirpated carnivore populations. Understanding the factors that influence translocation success is important because carnivore translocations can be time consuming, expensive, and controversial. Using population viability software, we modeled reintroductions of the fisher, a candidate for endangered or threatened status in the Pacific states of the US. Our model predicts that the most important factor influencing successful reestablishment of a fisher population is the number of adult females reintroduced (provided some males are also released). Data from 38 translocations of fishers in North America, including 30 reintroductions, 5 augmentations and 3 introductions, show that the number of females released was, indeed, a good predictor of success but that the number of males released, geographic region and proximity of the source population to the release site were also important predictors. The contradiction between model and data regarding males may relate to the assumption in the model that all males are equally good breeders. We hypothesize that many males may need to be released to insure a sufficient number of good breeders are included, probably large males. Seventy-seven percent of reintroductions with known outcomes (success or failure) succeeded; all 5 augmentations succeeded; but none of the 3 introductions succeeded. Reintroductions were instrumental in reestablishing fisher populations within their historical range and expanding the range from its mostcontracted state (43% of the historical range) to its current state (68% of the historical range). To increase the likelihood of translocation success, we recommend that managers: 1) release as many fishers as possible, 2) release more females than males (55–60% females) when possible, 3) release as many adults as possible, especially large males, 4) release fishers from a nearby source population, 5) conduct a formal feasibility assessment, and 6) develop a comprehensive implementation plan that includes an active monitoring program.
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CitationLewis, Jeffrey C.; Powell, Roger A.; Zielinski, William J. 2012. Carnivore translocations and conservation: insights from population models and field data for fishers (Martes pennanti). PLoS ONE 7(3): e32736
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