Are plant reintroductions successful?

A summary of Godefroid et al (2011) by Tehmeena Chaudhry

This paper was chosen because it shows the practical aspect of rare plant conservation. One of the main aspects discussed in this paper is that failures in biological application are rarely discussed or published, but are equally if not more important for learning how to become more successful in the future (Godefroid et al, 2011).

What did they do?

  1. Examine success through a survey and literature review because not all plant reintroductionss are published.
  2. Analysed hat was found to be successful.
  3. Make the results known for future plant reintroductions to learn from the past.

(Godefroid et al, 2011)

The Survey

The survey was given to over 400 botanic gardens, universities or conservation organizations likely to have taken on a reintroduction study (Godefroid et al, 2011). It was also published in BGCI, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, and was accessible to thousands of recipients (Godefroid et al, 2011). Overall the authors ended up with 135 reintroductions from the surveys alone spanning 82 species and 11 countries (Godefroid et al, 2011).

What did they find?

Literature bias

There is a high discrepancy between what is seen in literature and what was found in the survey especially with respect to short term studies (see graph below; Godefroid et al, 2011).

What is successful?

The authors found four main factors contributing to success found from literature and the survey, however, the first 3 are limited due to species rarity.

1. High population number used

2. Sourced from a rich population

3. Use seedlings rather than seeds

4. Management

Management however is not limited, but can be quite costly.

What is unsuccessful?

The below graph looks exclusively at survey participants (Godefroid et al, 2011). There is another discrepancy between the survey results and what is seen in literature and that is what they attributed to the cause of unsuccessful reintroductions (Godefroid et al, 2011). In the survey the leading known cause was unsuitable habitat, but the most cited causes in literature are herbivory and desiccation (Godefroid et al, 2011). After subsequent reviews of the literature by Bottin et al (2007) it was found that said herbivory and desiccation were a result of unsuitable habitat (Godefroid et al, 2011).

The Main Downfalls

Godefroid et al (2011) found the following shortcomings in plant reintroductions that were unsuccessful:

  1. Insufficient monitoring
  2. Little documentation
  3. Insufficient knowledge on threatening factors
  4. Being misled by short term successes
  5. “Success” is subjective

References

Bottin, L., Le Cadre, S., Quilichini, A., Bardin, P., Moret, J., Machon, N., 2007. Reestablishment trials in endangered plants: a review and the example of Arenaria grandiflora, a species on the brink of extinction in the Parisian region (France). Ecoscience 14, 410–419.

Godefroid, S., Piazza, C., Rossi, G., Buord, S., Stevens, A-D., Aguraija, R., Cowell, C., Weekley, C.W., Vogg, G., Iriondo, J.M., Johnson, I., Doxon, B., Gordon, D. Magnanon, S., Valentin, B., Bjureke, K., Koopman, R., Vicens, M., Virevaire, M. and Vanderborght, T. 2011. How successful are plant species reintroductions? Biol. Conserv. 144: 672-682.

Example of a Success Story