TRANSLOCATION OF THE SAN JOAQUIN ANTELOPE SQUIRREL (AMMOSPERMOPHILUS NELSONI) IN THE CARRIZO PLAIN
|Patrick R Anderson; California Polytechnic State University; firstname.lastname@example.org; Craig M. Fiehler, William T. Bean
In arid and semi-arid environments, burrowing mammals play a key role in increasing landscape heterogeneity through facilitative (positive) species interactions. The loss of burrowing mammal populations can consequently lead to negative effects cascading through the ecosystem; it is therefore critical to understand these facilitative interactions for conservation and management. For instance, wildlife translocations are a popular management tool that are often not successful. Accounting for facilitative interactions during translocation could improve success rates. To investigate the importance of burrow facilitation on San Joaquin antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni) translocation success, we designed a program for antelope squirrels using a natural experiment, with paired sites selected for the presence and absence of a burrowing facilitator, the giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens). We radio collared 97 antelope squirrels from core habitat within the Carrizo Plain. We then translocated 67 to uninhabited lands in their historical range, half to a site with giant kangaroo rats and half without. Over two sessions we observed differences in survival, dispersal and movement, and home range size across the three treatment groups. Our study highlights the importance of considering facilitative interactions when selecting release sites for translocation and planning restoration campaigns.