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Conservation management of the endangered Mauritius parakeet, Psittacula echo

Gath, Helen Claire; (2018) Conservation management of the endangered Mauritius parakeet, Psittacula echo. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Effectively managing wild populations requires drawing upon a range of skills from multiple scientific disciplines. Given the current biodiversity crisis the world now faces, developing these skills is a high priority in conservation science. Improving the success of species recovery programmes and sustaining them requires adopting the correct monitoring regime and implementing suitable restorative tools. To then evaluate their effectiveness and adjust methods accordingly is fundamental to ensuring continued success. The principal aim of this study has been to explore key approaches to conservation practice and their suitability for the management of the Mauritius (echo) parakeet, once considered the rarest parrot in the world. Nearly 25 years after intensive recovery efforts were initiated, their conservation is entering a new phase that looks toward a long-term strategy of minimal management. Achieving this requires a basic knowledge of the population’s demography and an assessment of the demographic response to management actions and infectious disease, knowledge which to date, has remained limited Accurately estimating demographic rates is a cornerstone to assessing the impact of management strategies or environmental conditions. Capture-mark-recapture (CMR) data plays an important role in this, but the accuracy of multistate models used to interpret such data is well debated when a species’ life history includes unobservable states. My analysis explored such potential inaccuracies and found that for the echo parakeets at least, unobservable multistate models led to biased estimates of vital rates and excluded important information regarding transitions between states. Combining the extensive CMR data with detailed breeding records, I explored the demographic impact of supplementary feeding (SF), a widely employed conservation tool but one often reporting varied responses from target populations. This study quantified the positive impact that SF has had on fecundity rates, which no doubt played a key role in the population’s growth. However, further work as part of this study also revealed that SF exacerbated the negative impact of an outbreak of psittacine beak and feather disease. I explore the extent of the outbreak and its demographic impact during and after its emergence in the echo population, and discuss the value of my findings in the context of the growing global threat of emerging infectious disease. The findings from my research provide a basis of vital information that could support evidence-based adaptations to the current management programme. Understanding the influence of management strategies will lead management toward better targeting and more efficient use of resources that will ultimately help to ensure the long term survival of the echo parakeet.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Conservation management of the endangered Mauritius parakeet, Psittacula echo
Event: UCL
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10045494
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