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The inter-island translocation of the New Zealand frog Leiopelma hamiltoni

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image of Applied Herpetology

Leiopelma hamiltoni from Maud Island, Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand is confined to two populations totalling approximately 19,000 individuals. In May 1997, 300 L. hamiltoni from Maud Island were translocated to nearby Motuara Island in an effort to expand their distribution and lower the risk of extinction for the species. By August 2002, 155 of the translocated frogs had been recaptured and the population contained a range of young to old frogs. Population estimates indicated the population on Motuara Island had stabilised with losses of the translocated frogs offset by new recruits. The first juvenile frog was found in January 1998, only 10 months after the translocation and 42 recruits were captured by August 2002. Although initial survival was low for the translocated frogs, survival following the initial 2-month settling-in period was high (71-100%). New recruits produced on Motuara Island had survival rates of 29-88%. Capture-recapture analyses support the view that the survival estimates include a large dispersal component. The a priori criteria for a successful translocation were met; the appropriateness of the Motuara Island habitat for breeding and adult survival was demonstrated.


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