Considering Extinction of Dependent Species during Translocation, Ex Situ Conservation, and Assisted Migration of Threatened Hosts

Melinda L. Moir*, Peter A. Vesk, Karl E C Brennan, Robert Poulin, Lesley Hughes, David A. Keith, Michael A. McCarthy, David J. Coates

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    55 Citations (Scopus)


    Translocation, introduction, reintroduction, and assisted migrations are species conservation strategies that are attracting increasing attention, especially in the face of climate change. However, preventing the extinction of the suite of dependent species whose host species are threatened is seldom considered, and the effects on dependent species of moving threatened hosts are unclear. There is no published guidance on how to decide whether to move species, given this uncertainty. We examined the dependent-host system of 4 disparate taxonomic groups: insects on the feather-leaf banksia (Banksia brownii), montane banksia (B. montana), and Stirling Range beard heath (Leucopogon gnaphalioides); parasites of wild cats; mites and ticks on Duvaucel's gecko (Hoplodactylus duvaucelii) and tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus); and internal coccidian parasites of Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus) and Hihi (Notiomystis cincta). We used these case studies to demonstrate a simple process for use in species- and community-level assessments of efforts to conserve dependents with their hosts. The insects dependent on Stirling Range beard heath and parasites on tigers (Panthera tigris) appeared to represent assemblages that would not be conserved by ex situ host conservation. In contrast, for the cases of dependent species we examined involving a single dependent species (internal parasites of birds and the mite Geckobia naultina on Duvaucel's gecko), ex situ conservation of the host species would also conserve the dependent species. However, moving dependent species with their hosts may be insufficient to maintain viable populations of the dependent species, and additional conservation strategies such as supplementing populations may be needed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)199-207
    Number of pages9
    JournalConservation Biology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


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