Threatened plant translocation in Australia: A review - Journal

Date: 03, Jun, 2019
Author(s):   J.L. Silcock, C.L. Simmons, L. Monks, R. Dillon, N. Reiter, M. Jusaitis, P.A. Vesk, M. Byrne, D.J. Coates
Publisher: Biological Conservation

Translocation of plants has become a common approach in conservation biology in the past two decades, but it is not clear how successful it is in achieving long-term conservation outcomes. We combined a literature review with extensive consultations with translocation practitioners to compile data on translocations of threatened Australian plants. We documented 1001 translocations involving 376 taxa, concentrated in regions and habitats with high numbers of threatened species. Only 109 translocation attempts encompassing 71 taxa are documented in peer-reviewed literature. Over 85% of translocations have occurred since 2000 and half since 2010, with an especially rapid increase in development mitigation translocations, which account for 30% of all translocations documented. Many translocations involved extremely small numbers of propagules, with 45% using <50 propagules and only 16% >250. Of the 724 translocations with sufficient data to assess performance, 42% have <10 plants surviving, and 13% have at least 50 plants surviving and some second-generation recruitment into the population. Translocation performance, measured by number of plants surviving and second-generation recruitment, was highly variable between plant lifeforms, habitats and propagule type. However, species was more variable than all of these, suggesting that some species are more conducive to translocation than others. Use of at least 500 founder individuals increased the chances of creating a viable population. Four decades after the first conservation translocations, our evaluation highlights the need to consider translocation in the broad context of conservation actions for species recovery and the need for long-term commitment to monitoring, site maintenance and documentation.