Survival cost to relocation does not reduce population self-sustainability in an amphibian
Relocations are increasingly popular among wildlife managers despite often low rates of relocation success in vertebrates. In this context, understanding the influence of extrinsic (e.g., relocation design, habitat characteristics) and intrinsic factors (e.g., age and sex) on demographic parameters, such as survival, that regulate the dynamics of relocated populations is critical to improve relocation protocols and better predict relocation success. We investigated survival rates in naturally established and relocated populations of yellow-bellied toads (Bombina variegata), an amphibian that was nearly extinct in Belgium by the late 1980s. We quantified survival at three ontogenetic stages (juvenile, subadult, and adult) in the relocated population, the source population, and a control population. In the relocated population, we quantified survival in captive bred individuals and their locally born descendants. Then, using simulations, we examined how survival cost to relocation affects the self-sustainability of the relocated population. We showed that survival at juvenile and subadult stages was relatively similar in all populations. In contrast, relocated adult survival was lower than adult survival in the source and control populations. Despite this, offspring of relocated animals (the next generation, regardless of life stage) survived at similar rates to individuals in the source and control populations. Simulations revealed that the relocated population was self-sustaining under different scenarios and that the fate (e.g., stability or increase) of the simulated populations was highly dependent on the fecundity of relocated adults and their offspring. our results indicate that survival in relocated individuals is lower than in non-relocated individuals but that this cost (i.e., reduced survival) disappears in the second generation. A finer understanding of how relocation affects demographic processes is an important step in improving relocation success of amphibians and other animals.
|Outlet/Publisher:||Journal of Applied Ecology|