Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

The role of individual differences in conservation: Effects on the success of threatened mammal re-introductions (#146)

Melissa Jensen 1 , Rebecca West 2 , Patricia Fleming 3 , David Paton 1 , Katherine Moseby 1 4
  1. School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  2. Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  4. Ecological Horizons Pty Ltd, Kimba, South Australia, Australia

Post-release survival of re-introduced mammals can vary dramatically between individuals, with some animals surviving for many months, whilst others die soon after release. Studies have found that post-release survival may be related to individual differences in behaviour, or ‘personality’. In particular, individuals that respond appropriately to potentially risky or stressful situations when tested in captivity prior to release, are more likely to survive following reintroduction. We investigated individual differences in behaviour in wild-caught western quolls (Dasyurus geoffroii) housed in captivity, prior to their reintroduction to the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in 2014 and 2015. Behaviour was recorded for eight tests, including a novel object test, a giving-up density test, and handling behaviour. Quolls were then radio-tracked for 6 months following release to determine survival, body condition, and dispersal patterns. Repeatable individual differences were identified in western quolls using the novel object test and handling behaviour. Here I will discuss how individual differences influenced post-release behaviour and survival, and make suggestions for how we may improve the success of future reintroductions by targeting individuals most suitable for reintroduction.