The success of terrestrial vertebrate conservation translocations worldwide: are we getting better at moving species?

Mr Shane D Morris1, Prof Chris N Johnson1, Dr Katherine E Moseby2, Prof Barry W Brook1

1University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 2University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Conservation translocation – the deliberate movement of an organism from one area to another to achieve a conservation benefit— has become increasingly important as an active response to biodiversity decline in the Anthropocene. We analysed success and failure in conservation translocations of terrestrial vertebrates over the last 120 years and tested whether success has improved through time. We undertook a systematic quantitative review of the scientific literature and combined this with information from the six IUCN “Global Re-introduction Perspectives” reports. This process resulted in data on 514 translocation projects. We found that translocation success rates have bettered over time. Multiple translocation events positively affected the probability of success, these likely not only aided population establishment via demographic processes but through organisational commitment to the project as well. A saturation effect in the number of individuals released was found, illustrating that in some cases less species may be translocated, and more funding could be directed elsewhere e.g. monitoring. Other findings show, unsurprisingly, that the type of threat experienced by the species affects the success of the translocation, with invasive species and natural system modification (fire & water management) having a large negative effect. These threats act synergistically in Oceania and are responsible for the high failure rate there. Climate change was identified as a more surmountable threat. However, this may be due to its current spatial and temporal distribution with localised effects at present easy to avoid and the threat being anticipant of the future.


Shane is part of the Dynamics of Eco-Evolutionary Patterns (DEEP) research group at the University of Tasmania. His research, using ecological modelling, focuses on the potential of conservation translocations in combating our current rate of biodiversity loss.

Species on the Move

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The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

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