Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Reintroduction methods and a review of mortality in the brush-tailed rock-wallaby, Grampians National Park, Australia

D. A. Taggart A B H , D. J. Schultz C , T. C. Corrigan D , T. J. Schultz E , M. Stevens F , D. Panther F and C. R. White G
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological Science, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Urrbrae, SA 5064, Australia.

B Fauna Research Alliance, PO Box 98, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.

C Adelaide Zoo, Frome Road, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

D Conservation Research, Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate, ACT Government, GPO Box 158, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

E School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

F Parks Victoria, PO Box 18, Halls Gap, Vic. 3381, Australia.

G School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

H Corresponding author. Email: david.taggart@adelaide.edu.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 63(6) 383-397 https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO15029
Submitted: 5 June 2015  Accepted: 17 December 2015   Published: 29 January 2016

Abstract

Captive-bred brush-tailed rock-wallabies (BTRW) were reintroduced into the Grampians National Park, Australia, during 2008–12. Two release strategies (methods) were examined: ‘Small release with supplementation’ (Strategy 1) and ‘Larger release, no supplementation’ (Strategy 2).

Of the 39 animals released, 18% survived. Thirty-six percent of all mortality occurred within the first 100 days. Under Strategy 1, 22 animals were released in five groups. Twenty deaths occurred across 48 months, with predation estimated to account for 15% of mortalities. Under Strategy 2, 17 individuals were reintroduced across one month. Twelve deaths occurred in the five months following release, with predation estimated to account for 83.4% of mortalities. Of the independent variables tested for their relationship to survival time after release, release strategy was the only significant predictor of survival time after release with the risk of death 3.2 times greater in Strategy 2.

Independent variables tested for their relationship to predation risk indicated that release strategy was also the only significant predictor of predation risk, with the risk of death associated with predation 10.5 times greater in Strategy 2. Data suggested that fox predation was the main factor affecting BTRW establishment. Predation risk declined by 75% during the first six months after release. A significant positive relationship was also found between predation risk and colony supplementation events.

We conclude that predation risk at Moora Moora Creek is reduced in releases of fewer animals, that it declines across time and that disturbing BTRW colonies through the introduction of new animals can increase predation risk. We recommend that future reintroductions should employ diverse exotic predator control measures at the landscape scale, time releases to periods of lowest predator activity, and limit colony disturbance to maintain group cohesion and social structure. Furthermore, the preferred method of population establishment should be single, small releases over multiple sites without supplementation. Further testing of the reintroduction biology of this species is urgently required.

Additional keywords: captive-bred, colonial, marsupial, predation, translocation.


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