The hitchhiker's guide to Australian conservation: A parasitological perspective on fauna translocations

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Abstract

Translocation is a widely used conservation tool for reintroducing, introducing or restocking wildlife for conservation purposes. Disease and parasites are often unintended hitchhikers during translocations. Conservation managers have begun considering the health, disease risk and parasite loads of their species post-translocation, but not often during the translocation itself. When parasites and diseases are considered during the translocation, they are often dealt with via medical interventions resulting in the complete eradication of parasites leaving the host vulnerable to new or novel disease or parasite loads, or disrupting specialised host–parasite interactions or disease dynamics. To determine the extent of consideration and intervention of parasites and diseases in the Australian context, we conducted an aggregate scoping review of wildlife conservation translocations resulting in 98 identified translocations of 61 species with most (75%) being translocations of 40 species of mammals. Of the 98 translocations identified, only 40 (41%) described any management actions to monitor the health or disease of the translocation, such as health checks, post-mortems or sampling of disease or parasite fauna. Surprisingly, some literature mentioned specific diseases or parasites impacting a population (29% of 90 translocations), but only 16 (16%) undertook intervention to prevent these further spreading. When considering general trends over time, more translocations are considering parasites and disease in their planning, and some management action is usually taken; however, medical intervention remains low. In order to ensure that parasites and diseases are part of conservation thinking, we provide a flowchart for managers that can be implemented into future translocations that consider both the negative consequences of disease and parasites, and the ecological necessity and potential benefits of retaining co-evolved parasites and diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-764
Number of pages17
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume47
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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