The influence of risk factors associated with captive rearing on post-release survival in translocated cirl buntings Emberiza cirlus in the UK

Fountain, K I and Jeffs, C and Croft, S and Gregson, J and Lister, J and Evans, A and Carter, I and Chang, Y M and Sainsbury, A W (2017) The influence of risk factors associated with captive rearing on post-release survival in translocated cirl buntings Emberiza cirlus in the UK. Oryx, 51 (2). pp. 332-338.

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Abstract

Population decline resulting from agricultural intensification led to contraction of the range of the cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus in the UK to a small area of south Devon. As part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan for the species, a project to re-establish a population in suitable habitat in Cornwall was undertaken during 2006–2011, in which chicks were removed from the nest in Devon, hand-reared and then delayed-released. The survival of the birds to four time points in the year after release was analysed in relation to the effect of rearing factors, using a multivariable logistic regression model. Individuals with higher body weight at capture were more likely to survive to 1 January and 1 May in the year following release, and individuals released in June and July were more likely to survive than those released in August. Individuals released in 2006 and 2011 had a higher survival rate than those released during 2007–2010. Timing of capture, time spent at each stage in captivity, medication and the detection of parasites in the brood had no significant effect. Immunosuppressive disease, weather factors and predator activity may have led to some of the observed differences in survival. This analysis provides evidence with which to plan future translocation projects for cirl buntings and other passerine birds.

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