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Vacoas, Mauritius

Tollington S.,University of Kent | Tollington S.,University of Sheffield | Jones C.G.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | Greenwood A.,International Zoo Veterinary Group | And 6 more authors.
Biological Conservation

Threatened populations of birds are often restored after bottleneck events by using reintroduction techniques. Whilst population numbers are often increased by using such measures, the long-term genetic effects of reintroductions and post-release management of the resulting populations are frequently overlooked. We identify an overall declining trend in population-wide estimates of genetic diversity over two decades since the initial recovery of the population from the most severe part of this species' bottleneck. Additionally, by incorporating the genotypes of known founding individuals into population viability simulations, we evaluate the genetic effects of population management under various scenarios at both the metapopulation and subpopulation levels. We reveal that whilst population augmentation has led to increased genetic homogenisation among subpopulations, significant differentiation still exists. Simulations predict that even with a low level of natural dispersal leading to gene-flow this differentiation could be ameliorated. We conclude by offering a number of key recommendations relating to post-recovery management of reintroduced bird populations which support the encouragement of individual dispersal using established management techniques such as artificial nest-site provisioning. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Brown D.S.,University of Cardiff | Burger R.,University of Cardiff | Cole N.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | Vencatasamy D.,Mauritian Wildlife Foundation | And 3 more authors.
Molecular Ecology

Re-introduction of rare species to parts of their historical range is becoming increasingly important as a conservation strategy. Telfair's Skinks (Leiolopisma telfairii), once widespread on Mauritius, were until recently found only on Round Island. There it is vulnerable to stochastic events, including the introduction of alien predators that may either prey upon it or compete for food resources. Consequently, skinks have been introduced to Ile aux Aigrettes, another small Mauritian island that has been cleared of rats. However, the island has been invaded by Asian Musk Shrews (Suncus murinus), a commensal species spread by man well beyond its natural Asian range. Our aim was to use next-generation sequencing to analyse the diets of the shrews and skinks to look for niche competition. DNA was extracted from skink faeces and from the stomach contents of shrews. Application of shrew- and skink-specific primers revealed no mutual predation. The DNA was then amplified using general invertebrate primers with tags to identify individual predators, and then sequenced by 454 pyrosequencing. 119 prey MOTUs (molecular taxonomic units) were isolated, although none could be identified to species. Seeding of cladograms with known sequences allowed higher taxonomic assignments in some cases. Although most MOTUs were not shared by shrews and skinks, Pianka's niche overlap test showed significant prey overlap, suggesting potentially strong competition where food resources are limited. These results suggest that removal of the shrews from the island should remain a priority. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Source

Tatayah V.,Mauritian Wildlife Foundation
Asian Biotechnology and Development Review

Mauritius and Rodrigues are renowned for the unique biodiversity that evolved on these islands, and are conversely notorious for some of the highest global extinction records. Much of the extant plants and animals are seriously threatened, and programmes have attempted to restore biodiversity at both species and ecosystems levels. Plant and habitat restoration programmes have been motivated by biodiversity conservation solely and almost never for ethnobotanic reasons. However, up to 61 per cent of native and endemic plants used in species and habitat restoration have documented medicinal use. Therefore, the plant biodiversity conservation has the added advantage of saving native and endemic medicinal plants. © 2011, RIS. Source

Cartwright S.J.,University of Reading | Nicoll M.A.C.,University of Reading | Jones C.G.,Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust | Tatayah V.,Mauritian Wildlife Foundation | Norris K.,University of Reading
Current Biology

Summary Recent work suggests that the environment experienced in early life can alter life histories in wild populations [1-5], but our understanding of the processes involved remains limited [6, 7]. Since anthropogenic environmental change is currently having a major impact on wild populations [8], this raises the possibility that life histories may be influenced by human activities that alter environmental conditions in early life. Whether this is the case and the processes involved remain unexplored in wild populations. Using 23 years of longitudinal data on the Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus), a tropical forest specialist, we found that females born in territories affected by anthropogenic habitat change shifted investment in reproduction to earlier in life at the expense of late life performance. They also had lower survival rates as young adults. This shift in life history strategy appears to be adaptive, because fitness was comparable to that of other females experiencing less anthropogenic modification in their natal environment. Our results suggest that human activities can leave a legacy on wild birds through natal environmental effects. Whether these legacies have a detrimental effect on populations will depend on life history responses and the extent to which these reduce individual fitness. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Laurance S.G.W.,James Cook University | Baider C.,Mauritius Herbarium | Vincent Florens F.B.,University of Mauritius | Ramrekha S.,Stem Consulting | And 2 more authors.
Biological Conservation

Wetlands are biologically important elements of landscapes and among the most threatened ecosystems on Earth. On the island of Mauritius, many remaining wetlands are being rapidly converted and fragmented by intense land-use demands. We surveyed 209 coastal wetlands on Mauritius to assess their biophysical attributes, land-use activities, and patterns of disturbance, to help identify factors that threaten wetland biodiversity. Most wetlands exhibited severe edge-related disturbances and more than half were fragmented. Plant species richness was highest in larger, unfragmented wetlands and lower in wetlands with degraded margins. Urban wetlands were smaller and more likely to be fragmented than those adjoining other land uses such as grazing and agriculture. Flooding of urban homes and infrastructure was more likely to occur near fragmented than natural wetlands. Ongoing wetland decline in Mauritius not only contributes to the loss of local biodiversity but reduces the larger ecosystem role these habitats play in regulating surface water and protecting adjacent marine habitats. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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