Captive breeding and the conservation of the threatened houbara bustards

Dolman, Paul, Burnside, John, Scotland, Keith and Collar, Nigel (2021) Captive breeding and the conservation of the threatened houbara bustards. Endangered Species Research, 46. pp. 161-173. ISSN 1863-5407

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Abstract

Translocation of captive-bred individuals to reinforce wild populations may be an important conservation approach for some species, but can be detrimental when employed to boost exploited wild populations, particularly where repeated long-term reinforcement aims to compensate for repeated unregulated offtake. We review evidence that captive breeding alters multiple physiological, life-history and temperamental traits through founder effects, genetic drift and unintended adaption to captivity; degrades learnt behaviours; and compromises biogeography, population structure and viability through introgression. We highlight these risks for the globally threatened African houbara Chlamydotis undulata and Asian houbara C. macqueenii, 2 bustard species hunted throughout much of their ranges and now subject to multiple large-scale captive-breeding programmes and translocations. In eastern Morocco, annual releases of captive-bred African houbara are 2–3 times higher than original wild numbers, but no investigation of their potentially deleterious effects has, to our knowledge, been published, although most wild populations may now have been replaced by captive-bred domestic stock, which are reportedly not self-sustaining. Despite multiple decades of reinforcement, we are not aware of any analysis of the contribution of captive breeding to African houbara population dynamics, or of the genomic consequences. Asian houbara release programmes may also be promoting rather than preventing declines, and need to contextualise themselves through rigorous analyses of wild population numbers, demographic rates and threats, maintenance of phylogeographic concordance of released with supplemented populations, profiling of traits crucial to survival and the measurement and modelling of the impacts of reinforcement on physiological and behavioural fitness of wild populations.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: chlamydotis macqueenii,chlamydotis undulata,game management,population reinforcement,restocking,supplementation,sustainable hunting,translocation,ecology,nature and landscape conservation ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2300/2303
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2021 00:18
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2022 09:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/81072
DOI: 10.3354/esr01151

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