OOS 9-10 - Faunal rescue in Brazil: Bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and practice

Tuesday, August 9, 2016: 10:50 AM
Grand Floridian Blrm G, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Julia Laterza, Department of Biology, John Carroll University, Cleveland, OH and James I. Watling, Department of Biology, James Carroll University, University Heights, OH

In Brazil the construction of hydroelectric dams is required by law to be accompanied by faunal rescue programs.  Thousands of vertebrates, mostly reptiles and amphibians, are captured at sites of future flooding and translocated to reserves nearby. This practice is expensive and outcomes poorly investigated, and despite criticism by researchers since the practice began in Brazil in 1984, few changes have been made. From the conservation perspective it is essential to determine if released individuals are able to 1) survive; 2) reproduce, and (3) establish viable populations in the release area. Unfortunately, the monitoring demanded by Brazilian environmental law is insufficient to answer those questions, and acquired data are generally unpublished.


The literature concerning translocation programs in several countries shows that they usually have a low rate of success; and those driven by mitigation tend to be less successful than conservation-driven programs. The main reasons for failure reported in translocation of reptiles and amphibians are (1) homing, (2) large movements and (3) migration away from release site, but other reasons for unsuccessful translocation programs include resource limitation, stress, territoriality, disease, and ecological changes resulting from construction. It has been suggested that faunal rescue is justified for its appeal to the general public, despite lack of clear conservation value. If faunal rescue is to continue in Brazil, it is imperative to further investigate its effects on the release areas and initiate ongoing monitoring of rescued individuals, particularly for herpetofauna since they are the vast majority of rescued animals.