Planning future translocations of an endangered passerine: management success, climate 
change and assisted colonisation

Alienor LM Chauvenet (1), David LP Correia (2), Doug P Armstrong (3), Nathalie Pettorelli (4), John G Ewen (4)

1 The University of Queensland, Goddard 8, Level 5, St Lucia, QLD 4067, Australia, a.chauvenet@uq.edu.au, @AChauvenet

2 Faculté de foresterie et de géomatique, Université Laval, Québec, QC, G1K 7P4, Canada, davidlpcorreia@gmail.com

3 Oceania Chair, IUCN-SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group, Wildlife Ecology Group, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand, D.P.Armstrong@massey.ac.nz

4 Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY, UK, john.ewen@ioz.ac.uk, @hihinews

Climate change is affecting the spatiotemporal distribution of environmental conditions, forcing species to shift their range in response. Species not capable of dispersing naturally may benefit from conservation translocations. The hihi Notiomystis cincta is a bird endemic to New Zealand. After almost going extinct due to invasive mammalian predators and native forest clearing, it has been reintroduced throughout North Island, NZ, since the 1980s.  Heavily managed with supplemental feeding (SF), the species is currently doing well and the recovery attempt is considered a success. However, under predicted climate change for NZ, we have evidence that the viability of at least two populations will be compromised, and the current SF approach is unlikely to prevent local extinction under increasing temperatures. Moreover, hihi suitable habitat will shift southward and habitat that was not part of the species’ historical range may become suitable. SF still presents itself as a valuable climate change adaptation tool by delaying extinction but assisted colonisation may need to be considered for maintaining this species. We suggest a strategy for planning the survival of the hihi, including using assisted colonisation. Our case study show that novel adaptation solutions that combine current approaches are required for conserving species with limited opportunity for dispersal. Nevertheless, justifying the use of an extreme conservation action like assisted colonisation requires robust evidence that it is necessary and clear guidance on where to translocate individuals of threatened populations.

Species on the Move

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