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Breeding ecology and success of a reintroduced population of the endangered Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon

  • XIAOPING YU (a1), XIA LI (a2) and ZHIPING HUO (a1)

Reintroduction projects usually attempt to re-establish a self-sustaining population of endangered species within their historical ranges through the release of captive-bred individuals into the wild. We studied the breeding biology and nesting success of a reintroduced population of Crested Ibis Nipponia nippon in Ningshan County on the south slope of the Qinling Mountains of Shaannxi Province, China. From May 2007 to October 2011, 56 captive-bred individuals, composed of 26 females and 30 males, were released into the area and monitored using radio-telemetry. The average age of individuals at release was 5.2 ± 2.5 years for females and 6.4 ± 2.9 years for males. Mean clutch size was 3.14±1.06 (range 1-5). Mean number of fledglings per active nest was 1.57 ± 1.03 and mean number of fledglings per successful nest was 2.00 ± 0.87. Most of the fledglings survived to complete their post-fledging dispersal. Mean annual survival rate was 0.552 ± 0.064 for all released birds, 0.815 ± 0.054 for breeders, and 0.515 ± 0.058 for first year fledglings. The average number of young produced/year/pair was 1.57 ± 1.03 and the growth rate (λ) of the reintroduced population was 1.2193. We confirmed that starvation and predation by King Rat Snake Elaphe carinata were the main causes of death of released individuals, nestlings and fledglings. This is the first attempt to reintroduce captive-bred Crested Ibis to former natural habitat. The ability of captive-bred ibis to survive and breed successfully bodes well for future releases of this and other endangered species.

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Bird Conservation International
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