Releasing animals in more than one location may increase or decrease the probability of success of a reintroduction project, yet the question of how many release sites to use has received little attention. We used empirical data from the reintroduction program of the Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) (Galilee region in northern Israel) in an individual-based spatially explicit simulation model to assess the effects of releasing deer from multiple sites. We examined whether multiple release sites increase reintroduction success, and if so, whether the optimal number of sites for a given scenario can be determined and whether the outcome differs if animals are released alternately (i.e., the location of the release alternates yearly between sites) or consecutively (i.e., one release site is used for several years, then another is used, and so forth). We selected 8 potential release sites in addition to the original site and simulated the release of 180 individuals at a rate of 10 individuals per year in different combinations of the original site and 1-4 additional sites. In our model, releasing animals into the wild at multiple sites produced higher population growth and greater spatial expansion than releasing animals at only one site and a consecutive-release approach was superior to an alternate-release approach. We suggest that through the use of simulation modeling that is based on empirical data from previous releases, managers can make better-informed decisions regarding the use of multiple release sites and greatly improve the probability of reintroduction success.
- Long-term managment programs
- Persian fallow deer
- Spatial ecology
- Spatially explicit models
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation