Review: Advances In Reintroduction Biology

The Book: Advances in Reintroduction Biology

Authors: Doug Armstrong et al.

If you’re at all involved in animal reintroductions down under, then you need this book in your library. Whether you’re a researcher, manager, or both, this text offers a neat but comprehensive package of what’s been learned about reintroductions from the tumultuous conservation history of Australia and New Zealand.

Reintroduction, defined as the intentional movement and release of an organism inside its indigenous range from which it’s disappeared, has become an essential conservation tool. However, this rapidly growing practice is replete with risks and management issues that require expert planning and a sound understanding of the species and ecosystems in question. This book addresses the issues most pertinent in the current realm of wildlife reintroductions, discussing everything from disease risk and genetic diversity, to the role of zoos and the optimal strategies for release. As a result, the reader is primed with the latest wisdom of the reintroduction field within a uniquely Australian and New Zealand context.    

Special attention is given to dealing with the invasive predators and prey naivety that has become a trademark of Australian and New Zealand conservation threats. As the authors point out, mortality due to exotic predators is the leading cause of reintroduction failures. To this end, the authors provide clear instructions on the use of predator exclusion fences and lethal control, as well an overview of more novel approaches such as utilising the ‘landscape of fear’ theory to supress exotic mesopredators (medium-sized predators that simultaneously predate and are predated upon). The relatively neglected subject of prey naivety is reviewed, with the authors providing a glimpse of the exciting potential that this area offers under a currently shifting paradigm.   

The increasing importance of privately owned sanctuaries is discussed with case studies involving Bush Heritage and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and advances in captive breeding and the impetus of viable insurance populations are also revised with regards to the conservation role of zoos. Elsewhere, the reader is presented with a useful table to assist in identifying the needs of connectivity for organisms with different dispersal potentials.

What I find particularly impressive is the entire chapter dedicated to “forty years of fauna translocations in Western Australia”. Chronicling the lessons learned from the translocation of some 12, 000 individual animals, the authors point to a need for better monitoring and reporting techniques to ensure that the relative success of a translocation can be accurately measured, with the details of improving on these methods coherently laid out in the preceding pages. Furthermore, they impress upon the reader the importance of recognizing translocations for what they are: rare research opportunities from which valuable knowledge can be gained. Thus, the importance of capitalising on scientific opportunities shines through as a key lesson in this and other chapters.

Packed with case studies, guidelines, and future directions, this text offers not only a thorough review of reintroduction theory but acts as an up-to-date manual for the practice of faunal reintroduction. Given the current ecological crisis and increasing move towards animal reintroductions, managers and researchers stand to gain much from having such a book handy, as do our native wildlife.

This book belongs on your shelf if... you're a researcher or manager involved with reintroduction biology or hoping to learn more about it.