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Data from: Meteorological conditions influence short-term survival and dispersal in a reinforced bird population.


Hardouin, Loïc A. et al. (2015), Data from: Meteorological conditions influence short-term survival and dispersal in a reinforced bird population., Dryad, Dataset,


A high immediate mortality rate of released animals is an important cause of translocation failure (“release cost”). Post-release dispersal (i.e. the movements from the release site to the first breeding site) has recently been identified as another source of local translocation failure. In spite of their potential effects on conservation program outcomes, little is known about the quantitative effects of these two sources of translocation failure and their interactions with environmental factors and management designs. Based on long-term monitoring data of captive-bred North African houbara bustards Chlamydotis undulata undulata (hereafter, houbara) over large spatial scales, we investigated the relative effects of release (e.g. release group size, period of release), individual (e.g. sex and body condition) and meteorological (e.g. temperature and rainfall) conditions on post-release survival (N = 957 individuals) and dispersal (N = 436 individuals). We found that (i) rainfall and ambient air temperature had, respectively, a negative and a positive effect on houbara post-release dispersal distance, (ii) in interaction with the release period, harsh meteorological conditions had negative impact on the survival of houbara, (iii) density-dependent processes influenced the pattern of departure from the release site and (iv) post-release dispersal distance was male-biased, as natal dispersal of wild birds (although the dispersal patterns and movements may be influenced by different processes in captive-bred and in wild birds). Synthesis and applications. Our results demonstrate that post-release dispersal and mortality costs in translocated species may be mediated by meteorological factors, which in turn can be buffered by the release method. As the consequences of translocation programs on population dynamics depend primarily upon release costs and colonisation process, we suggest that their potential interactions with meteorological conditions must be carefully addressed in future programs (i) through monitoring of short-term post-release mortality to understand its link with environmental conditions; (ii) by carefully choosing the season of release to minimize exposition of inexperienced individuals to harsh conditions and (iii) generalising the use of long-term weather forecast to adapt release effort and staggering releases over several years to buffer meteorological effects.

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