New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2016) 40(3): 334- 341

Resource selection by tuatara following translocation: a comparison of wild-caught and captive-reared juveniles

Research Article
Scott Jarvie 1*
Mariano R Recio 1,2
Stephen C Adolph 1,3
Philip J Seddon 1
Alison Cree 1
  1. Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56 Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  2. School of Surveying, University of Otago, PO Box 56 Dunedin 9054, New Zealand
  3. Department of Biology, Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, California 91711 USA
*  Corresponding author

Animal reintroduction is an important tool for species conservation, but success rates can be low. Comparative studies can be used to identify factors that influence success during translocations. We studied the reintroduction of captive-reared and wild-caught juveniles of an iconic reptile, the tuatara Sphenodon punctatus, on the South Island of New Zealand. We followed juveniles from three treatment groups (wild-caught and from two outdoor head-start facilities, all of the same genetic stock) during the initial five months of the establishment phase. We compared resource selection at three scales: landscape, high-use areas, and retreat-sites. At the landscape scale, juvenile tuatara from all groups remained in forest habitats similar to those where they were released, which also had the highest night-time operative temperatures (theoretically equilibrated body temperatures); in high-use areas they chose to be close to cover; and for retreat-sites they selected burrows. Our results demonstrate that juvenile tuatara, irrespective of group, used similar resources, and suggest that either wild-caught or captive-reared juveniles could be used as founders for future translocations