Modelling post-release survival of reintroduced Red-billed Curassows Crax blumenbachii
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Modelling post-release survival probabilities of reintroduced birds can help inform 'soft-release' strategies for avian reintroductions that use captive-bred individuals. We used post-release radiotelemetry data to estimate the survival probabilities of reintroduced captive-bred Red-billed Curassow Crax blumenbachii, a globally threatened Cracid endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. Between August 2006 and December 2008, 46 radiotagged Curassows from the Crax Brazil breeding centre were reintroduced to the Guapiacu Ecological Reserve (REGUA), Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, in seven different cohorts. Reintroduced birds were most vulnerable during the first 12 months post-release from natural predation, domestic dogs and hunting. Annual post-release survival probability was high (75%) compared with published estimates for other Galliform species. However, when considering survival in all birds transported to REGUA (some birds died before release or were retained in captivity) and not only post-release survival, phi in this study was closer to estimates for other species (60%). The duration of the pre-release acclimatization period within the soft-release enclosure and the size of the released cohorts both positively influenced post-release survival of reintroduced Curassows. Our results are relevant to future Cracid reintroductions and highlight the importance of utilizing post-release monitoring data for evidence-based improvements to soft-release strategies that can significantly enhance the post-release survival of captive-bred birds.