Conservation breeding programs are typically a last resort to save critically endangered species from extinction. Intensive breeding, management and release of individuals is costly and in many circumstances doesn’t address underlying threatening processes unless coupled with other actions.
Conservation breeding programs often face challenges and trade-offs associated with rearing individuals in captivity. These can include a lack of opportunities to interact with, and learn from, conspecifics, competitors or predators; adaptation or conditioning to captivity; and loss of natural behaviours or behavioural diversity.
A major research focus of the Conservation Behaviour Lab is to understand how behaviour is affected during conservation breeding programs, and how it can be used to optimise breeding programs, both in captivity and for the survival and fitness of individuals after release.
Born to be wild: evaluating the zoo-based Regent Honeyeater breed for release program to optimise individual success and conservation outcomes in the wild
Tripovich, J.S., Popovic, G., Elphinstone, A., Ingwersen, D., Johnson, G., Schmelitschek, E., Wilkin, D., Taylor, G., Pitcher, B.J. 2021. Frontiers in Conservation Science 2: 16
A cause for alarm: increasing translocation success of captive individuals through alarm communication
Morris, V., Pitcher, B.J., Chariton, A. 2021. Frontiers in Conservation Science 2: 2