A cause for alarm: increasing translocation success of captive individuals through alarm communication

Vanessa Morris*, Benjamin Pitcher, Anthony Chariton

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    34 Downloads (Pure)


    Translocation programmes implying the movement of animals from one place to another aim to sustain endangered populations in the wild. However, their success varies greatly, with predation being a major contributing factor. This is particularly prevalent in released captive-raised individuals which have a reduced or lost awareness of predators. Alarm calls are an immediate response made toward a predator, mostly studied in highly predated, social vertebrates. These warning vocalizations are a vital part of a prey species' anti-predator behavior, enhancing the individuals' and surrounding listeners' survival. To date, most translocation programmes have not considered this behavior for release success. Here we review the literature summarizing alarm communication systems of wild and captive vertebrates, aiming to establish recommendations and actions which could encourage alarm communication behavior in captive vertebrate species. Observations of wild animals show that alarm-call understanding is gained through the experience of predation pressure from a young age, amongst conspecific and heterospecific social groups, which captive individuals can lack. This information, combined with consideration of a programme's accessible resources and captive individual's developmental history, is pivotal to efficiently guide appropriate actions. Focusing on preserving behaviors in captivity, we provide a list of recommendations and actions to guide the reinforcement of alarm communication throughout the translocation process. Ensuring predator awareness and the maintenance of alarm communication in translocated individuals may greatly improve the likelihood of release success.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number626311
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalFrontiers in Conservation Science
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • anti-predation
    • reintroductions
    • communication
    • conservation
    • animal behavior
    • social species


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