In most urban and agricultural landscapes, remnants of native vegetation are surrounded by an inhospitable matrix. Although vagile species come and go, many reptiles, amphibians and small mammals are effectively stranded and declining towards local extinction. In the same landscapes, other areas where these species are absent are improving in habitat quality, both through natural regeneration and active restoration efforts. So, for many species in many domesticated landscapes, there are too many individuals in some patches of decreasing quality and no individuals in patches of increasing quality. One solution to this situation is to move animals from those areas where there are plenty to suitable areas where there are none. These targeted translocations apply lessons learned from revegetation to dispersal-limited animals to in-fill distributional ranges, increase population size and improve both demographic and genetic connectivity, pushing nonequilibrial metapopulations away from extinction via an imposed mass effect. In contrast to conventional reintroduction schemes—expensive, reactive interventions involving highly-trained specialists and captive-raised endangered species—these inexpensive, proactive, community-driven initiatives aim to avert future declines by keeping common species common. Having introduced the wildlife restoration vision, we use two scenarios to illustrate the benefits of the approach—to species, ecosystem function, ecological understanding, restoration practise and public engagement. As well as adhering to best-practise reintroduction techniques to ensure animal welfare is not compromised and avoid detrimental effects to source populations or release sites, we emphasize community participation, data quality and long-term accessibility as paramount to maximize learning opportunities.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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