Breeding biology and post-fledging dispersal of red-crowned parakeets (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae) translocated to a fenced mainland sanctuary
With human impacts like habitat destruction and climate change contributing to range contractions in species, translocations stand out as an important tool for conserving species suffering from these effects. However, an understanding of the life history of many threatened species prior to translocation is often lacking, but critical for translocation success. For example, dispersal away from the release site—particularly when a protected release site is surrounded by unmanaged habitat—can result in translocation failure, and therefore successful translocation practice must include an understanding of a species’ dispersal patterns. I conducted a study examining the breeding biology and post-fledging dispersal of a population of red-crowned parakeets Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae), or kakariki, recently translocated to a mainland sanctuary in Wellington, New Zealand. The sanctuary, ZEALANDIA, is fenced to exclude invasive mammalian predators; however, birds can and do leave. Approximately one-third of juveniles that dispersed outside the sanctuary were killed by predators. Kakariki post-fledging dispersal was male-biased, possibly driven by inbreeding avoidance, and distance dispersed decreased with increasing body condition. Parental age may have also influenced offspring dispersal. In addition, I found that kakariki reproductive success may be affected by age, and estimated lifetime reproductive success was >30 fledglings by age five. Conservation initiatives could work on controlling predators in currently unprotected reserves and around food sources that kakariki targeted, particularly in summer and autumn when many plants are fruiting and recently fledged juveniles are more active. Future translocations should consider selecting younger birds to translocate to take advantage of their high lifetime reproductive success and therefore improve viability of populations.