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Associated costs of mitigation-driven translocation in small lizards

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journal contribution
posted on 06.04.2021, 09:08 by Rafael Barrientos, Rodrigo Megía-Palma
Mitigation-driven translocations represent an increasingly common management solution to reduce animal mortality and habitat loss caused by human development. Although they currently outnumber other translocation types, there is a lack of scientific approaches to evaluate the outcome of this management tool. We designed an experimental translocation with two groups of translocated males and two of control males of a small (6-14 g) lizard (totaling 120 individuals). Our results suggest that translocated individuals covered longer distances (53 vs. 18 m) from their respective release points during their first month (on average), although this distance diminished over time. Displacing longer distances was associated with a body condition impoverishment and an increase in parasitization by ectoparasites. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that finds a positive relationship between covering longer distances and an increase in the number of mites. This was also explained by the initial mite load that lizards had, suggesting that controlling the infestation by mites is energetically demanding for lizards, being traded by locomotor activity. At least for those individuals in poorer body condition, we recommend the implementation of soft release (gradually accustoming individuals to their new environment by previously releasing them into controlled conditions) and deparasitization before accomplishing a mitigation-driven translocation.