Linking wild and captive populations to maximize species persistence

Optimal translocation strategies

Brigitte Tenhumberg, Richard AJ Tyre, Katriona Shea, Hugh P. Possingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

79 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Captive breeding of animals is widely used to manage endangered species, frequently with the ambition of future reintroduction into the wild. Because this conservation measure is very expensive, we need to optimize decisions, such as when to capture wild animals or release captive-bred individuals into the wild. It is unlikely that one particular strategy will always work best; instead, we expect the best decision to depend on the number of individuals in the wild and in captivity. We constructed a first-order Markov-chain population model for two populations, one captive and one wild, and we used stochastic dynamic programming to identify optimal state-dependent strategies. The model recommends unique sequences of optimal management actions over several years. A robust rule of thumb for species that can increase faster in captivity than in the wild is to capture the entire wild population whenever the wild population is below a threshold size of 20 females. This rule applies even if the wild population is growing and under a broad range of different parameter values. Once a captive population is established, it should be maintained as a safety net and animals should be released only if the captive population is close to its carrying capacity. We illustrate the utility of this model by applying it to the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx). The threshold for capturing the entire Arabian oryx population in the wild is 36 females, and captive-bred individuals should not be released before the captive facilities are at least 85% full.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1304-1314
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004

Fingerprint

captive population
wild population
translocation
Animals
persistence
captivity
captive breeding
animal
reintroduction
Markov chain
carrying capacity
Dynamic programming
endangered species
Markov processes
Conservation
safety
breeds
dynamic programming
animal breeding
wild animals

Keywords

  • Captive breeding
  • Endangered species
  • Optimal management strategies
  • Stochastic dynamic programing
  • Translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

Linking wild and captive populations to maximize species persistence : Optimal translocation strategies. / Tenhumberg, Brigitte; Tyre, Richard AJ; Shea, Katriona; Possingham, Hugh P.

In: Conservation Biology, Vol. 18, No. 5, 01.10.2004, p. 1304-1314.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tenhumberg, Brigitte ; Tyre, Richard AJ ; Shea, Katriona ; Possingham, Hugh P. / Linking wild and captive populations to maximize species persistence : Optimal translocation strategies. In: Conservation Biology. 2004 ; Vol. 18, No. 5. pp. 1304-1314.
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