Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Do bolder woylies get fatter? Individual differences in behaviour during and post-translocation. (#606)

Kimberley D Page 1 , Trish A Fleming 1 , Peter J Adams 1 , Laura Ruykys 2 , Bill W Bateman 3
  1. School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. Australian Wildlife Conservancy , Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

An animal’s behaviour and stress level has been widely implicated in influencing its survival, fitness, reproduction and ability to obtain resources in new environments. This can have significant consequences for the management of threatened species, in particular the success of translocations of species into new or pre-occupied areas. As such, a better understanding of how individuals respond to conservation interventions, such as translocation, will assist with minimising stress, reducing risk, and improving conservation outcomes. This project is a behavioural study of the critically endangered woylie (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi). The Australian Wildlife Conservancy has conducted three translocations of woylies to predator-proof enclosures, the first from Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary to Mount Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary and two from the Upper Warren region in the southwest of Western Australia to Mount Gibson and Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuaries respectively. Behaviour of woylies during the translocations was assessed using a series of qualitative and quantitative measures, including agitation level, movement in pet packs during holding, heart rate pre- and post-processing, and behaviour at release. Faecal samples were also collected to monitor faecal glucocorticoid metabolites. Results will determine correlations between individual behavioural responses and change in body mass post-translocation. We predict that ‘bolder’ individuals will adapt more quickly to their new environment, locate resources more effectively, and show greater body mass gain. Selecting a higher proportion of such individuals for future translocations could increase survival rates, thereby improving translocation success and long-term security of the species.