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Walking on their own legs: unassisted population growth of the agouti Dasyprocta leporina, reintroduced to restore seed dispersal in an Atlantic Forest reserve

  • Caio Fittipaldi Kenup (a1), Raíssa Sepulvida (a1), Catharina Kreischer (a1) and Fernando A. S. Fernandez (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Reintroduction of locally extirpated species is an increasingly popular conservation tool. However, few initiatives focus on the restoration of ecological processes. In addition, many reintroductions fail to conduct post-release monitoring, hampering both assessment of their success and implementation of adaptive management actions. In 2009 a reintroduction effort was initiated to re-establish a population of the red-rumped agouti Dasyprocta leporina, a scatter-hoarding rodent known to be an important disperser of large seeds, with the aim of restoring ecological processes at Tijuca National Park, south-east Brazil. To assess whether this reintroduced population established successfully we monitored it using mark–resighting during November 2013–March 2015. Population size and survival were estimated using a robust design Poisson-log normal mixed-effects mark–resight model. By March 2015 the number of wild-born individuals fluctuated around 30 and overall growth of the population was positive. As the reintroduced population is capable of unassisted growth, we conclude that the reintroduction has been successful in the medium term. We recommend the cessation of releases, with efforts redirected to continued monitoring, investigation and management of possible threats to the species’ persistence, and to quantification of the re-establishment of ecological processes. Reintroduction of D. leporina populations can be a cost-effective tool to restore ecological processes, especially seed dispersal, in Neotropical forests.

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(Corresponding author) E-mail caio.kenup@gmail.com
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Supplementary material for this article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605316001149
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