Population augmentation had no effect on the abundance or body condition of conspecifics and co-occurring lizard species in a native grassland community

Lucy F.R. Clive, Michael G. Gardner, Jessica Clayton, Ryan Baring, Mark N. Hutchinson, Aaron Fenner, C. Michael Bull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Wildlife translocations have been historically plagued by failure. As more species gain endangered status, we must increase the success rate through use of pre-emptive empirical, evidence-based research. The main ecological risk is the potential for the relocated individuals to have competitive advantage at the recipient site, acting invasively and, potentially, outcompeting the native fauna for food, shelter or other resources. Here we investigated the ecological risk of increased population density, following a population augmentation of the pygmy bluetongue lizard (Tiliqua adelaidensis) an endangered lizard, endemic to South Australia. We experimentally increased T. adelaidensis density to ascertain if a sudden increase in T. adelaidensis density would negatively affect the abundance or body condition of the resident conspecifics and co-existing lizard species found at the recipient site. Twenty-four individuals, from two populations, were relocated into previously built enclosures at a recipient site in grassland habitat, north of Adelaide, South Australia. For one activity-season pre and post the augmentation, co-existing lizard species were sampled in an effort to detect any changes inabundance or body condition. Comparisons were also made between experimental enclosures, containing residents and translocated individuals and control enclosures, containing only residents. Using Menetia greyii as a proxy for all of the competing species, our results show there was no reduction in abundance or body condition post augmentation. Our lack of evidence indicating a negative impact of the T. adelaidensis translocation on the body condition and abundance of the resident lizard species is a positive outcome for future conservation of this species. This study provides a new way of approaching wildlife movements, through identification of potential risks using small-scale translocations in an enclosed area before conducting large-scale releases into unfenced areas; the results are intended to facilitate higher translocation success rates and limit the negative effects upon the wider ecological community at recipient sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-487
Number of pages10
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • conservation
  • ecological risk
  • lizard
  • native grassland
  • population augmentation
  • reptile

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