Population dynamics and behavioural ecology of two isolated populations of the Floreana mockingbird : laying the basis for its reintroduction : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Conservation Biology at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Massey University
The Author
Translocations are one of the most important conservation actions in the recovery of endangered species, these imply the movement of live individuals from one area to another. To ensure the success of translocations, different logistics and species-specific ecological factors need to be considered. Since the early 2000’s, there have been calls to reintroduce the endangered cooperative breeding Floreana mockingbird, to Floreana Island (Galápagos Archipelago) where they became locally extinct due to habitat loss and invasive species. The species currently inhabiting two small islets off the coast of Floreana with no recent history of connection between populations. However, our understanding of reintroduction strategies for the mockingbird is based on monogamous breeding species, not on cooperative breeding species. In this thesis, I explored demographic and behavioural aspects of the species that might facilitate the reintroduction to Floreana. Firstly, I described a non-invasive method that will help will the correct sexing identification and monitoring of Floreana mockingbirds. Furthermore, I assessed the probability of survival of the species using capture-mark-recapture (CMR) models and the influence of precipitation on the survival rate, recruitment of individuals, and population growth. Overall, the population seem to be stable with a slight decrease in one of the populations. Additionally, I explored ecological factors such as vocalization and sociality. I investigated the hypothesis of possible differences in vocalisations between individuals from the two remnant populations. I found an acoustic divergence between populations that could be explained by the influence of cultural drift and morphological differentiation as an effect of isolation, lack of gene flow, and cultural exchange. Finally, I investigated the social structure of the Floreana mockingbird and the probability of group disruption during translocations. I found that mockingbirds live in a highly transitive hierarchy and that the dominance networks are explained by the age and social status of the individuals. Moreover, the network simulations showed that inadequate harvesting could increase the probability of group disruption in the new area of translocations. My research will help develop a reintroduction strategy for the species to Floreana Island and it will assist the Galápagos National Park to reach a major conservation milestone for the species.
The paper in Appendix 4A is redistributed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license, and the paper in Appendix 4B according to the journal's instructions for authors.
Mockingbirds, Galapagos Islands, Behavior, Reintroduction