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Restoring islands and identifying source populations for introductions

Wauchope HS, Fuller RA, Shanahan DF & Shaw JD (2019) Restoring islands and identifying source populations for introductions. Conservation Biology, 33, 729-732.

Conservation introductions, the intentional movement of species’ outside their natural range to achieve a conservation goal, are becoming an increasingly relevant strategy to help restore, maintain and protect biodiversity in a changing world. Most conservation introductions focus on a target species, often at risk of extinction, and identify habitat for introduction. Here, we present a novel, inverse scenario where an island-endemic species has gone extinct, and the drivers of extinction have now been removed, creating available habitat into which a population of a closely related species could be introduced. Island species are among the most threatened taxa globally and this proactive conservation approach might benefit not only the island’s ecosystems and values, but also provide an additional insurance population for the source species. Where an extinct species has multiple closely related extant species, a decision must be made about which source population to consider for a conservation introduction. Here we undertake a structured decision-making process to identify an optimal source population.

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