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Movement patterns by Egernia napoleonis following reintroduction into restored jarrah forest

Christie, K.R., Craig, M.D, Stokes, V.L. and Hobbs, R.J. (2011) Movement patterns by Egernia napoleonis following reintroduction into restored jarrah forest. Wildlife Research, 38 (6). pp. 475-481.

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Context The value of animal reintroduction as a conservation tool is debated. This is largely because the limited quantity of research that has been conducted on animal reintroductions has shown varying degrees of success in establishing new populations. The reasons why some reintroductions are successful, whereas others are not, are often not clear. Aims The present research aims to determine whether reptile reintroduction into restored mine pits is a potential management technique for managing and conserving reptile populations within a mined landscape. Methods Twelve Napoleon's skinks were trapped then fitted with 0.9-g transmitters. Half were reintroduced into 5-year-old restored mine pits and the other half into unmined forest. Bodyweights, movement patterns and macro-habitat selection were recorded weekly during November and then monthly until March. Key results Skinks reintroduced into restored sites quickly moved into unmined forest. Both groups of skinks moved large distances, but those reintroduced into restored sites travelled further than did control skinks and took longer to reduce their distances travelled, showing possible stress as a result of release into unsuitable habitat. Eventually, almost all skinks found suitable habitat in unmined forest and settled into these areas while continuing to gain weight. Conclusions Reintroduction was an ineffective technique for facilitating colonisation of restored minesites by Napoleon's skink. Lack of suitable micro-habitats within restoration areas, such as ground logs and coarse, woody debris piles, is likely limiting the use of these areas by Napoleon's skinks and is likely to be the cause of their failure to remain or settle in restored sites after reintroduction. Implications Determining the habitat requirements of skinks and replicating this in restoration sites would seem the more appropriate management option than is reintroduction, and this may be the case for other reptiles and habitat specialists.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © 2011 CSIRO.
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