Context . The Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) is a subspecies of conservation concern in the western United States, currently occupying ≤10% of its historic range. Land and management agencies are employing translocation techniques to restore Columbian sharp-tailed grouse (CSTG) populations. However, establishing self-sustaining populations by translocating grouse often is unsuccessful, owing, in part, to low survivorship of translocated grouse following release.
Aims . We measured and modelled patterns of CSTG mortality for 150 days following translocation into historic range, to better understand patterns and causes of success or failure in conservation efforts to re-establish grouse populations.
Methods . We conducted two independent multi-year translocations and evaluated individual and temporal factors associated with CSTG survival up to 150 days following their release. Both translocations were reintroduction attempts in Nevada, USA, to establish viable populations of CSTG into their historic range.
Key results . We observed a clear temporal threshold in survival probability, with CSTG mortality substantially higher during the first 50 days following release than during the subsequent 100 days. Additionally, translocated yearling grouse exhibited higher overall survival (0.669 ± 0.062) than did adults (0.420 ± 0.052) across the 150-day period and higher survival than adults both before and after the 50-day temporal threshold.
Conclusions . Translocated CSTG are especially vulnerable to mortality for 50 days following release, whereas translocated yearling grouse are more resistant to mortality than are adult grouse. On the basis of the likelihood of survival, yearling CSTG are better candidates for population restoration through translocation than are adult grouse.
Implications . Management actions that ameliorate mortality factors for 50 days following translocation and translocations that employ yearling grouse will increase the likelihood of population establishment.