Identifying predictors of translocation success in rare plant species

Joe Bellis, Oyomoare Osazuwa-Peters, Joyce Maschinski, Matthew J. Keir, Elliott W. Parsons, Thomas N. Kaye, Michael Kunz, Jennifer Possley, Eric Menges, Stacy A. Smith, Daniela Roth, Debbie Brewer, William Brumback, James J. Lange, Christal Niederer, Jessica B. Turner-Skoff, Megan Bontrager, Richard Braham, Michelle Coppoletta, Karen D. HollPaula Williamson, Timothy Bell, Jayne L. Jonas, Kathryn McEachern, Kathy L. Robertson, Sandra J. Birnbaum, Adam Dattilo, John J. Dollard, Jeremie Fant, Wendy Kishida, Peter Lesica, Steven O. Link, Noel B. Pavlovic, Jackie Poole, Charlotte M. Reemts, Peter Stiling, David D. Taylor, Jonathan H. Titus, Priscilla J. Titus, Edith D. Adkins, Timothy Chambers, Mark W. Paschke, Katherine D. Heineman, Matthew A. Albrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The fundamental goal of a rare plant translocation is to create self-sustaining populations with the evolutionary resilience to persist in the long term. Yet, most plant translocation syntheses focus on a few factors influencing short-term benchmarks of success (e.g., survival and reproduction). Short-term benchmarks can be misleading when trying to infer future growth and viability because the factors that promote establishment may differ from those required for long-term persistence. We assembled a large (n = 275) and broadly representative data set of well-documented and monitored (7.9 years on average) at-risk plant translocations to identify the most important site attributes, management techniques, and species’ traits for six life-cycle benchmarks and population metrics of translocation success. We used the random forest algorithm to quantify the relative importance of 29 predictor variables for each metric of success. Drivers of translocation outcomes varied across time frames and success metrics. Management techniques had the greatest relative influence on the attainment of life-cycle benchmarks and short-term population trends, whereas site attributes and species’ traits were more important for population persistence and long-term trends. Specifically, large founder sizes increased the potential for reproduction and recruitment into the next generation, whereas declining habitat quality and the outplanting of species with low seed production led to increased extinction risks and a reduction in potential reproductive output in the long-term, respectively. We also detected novel interactions between some of the most important drivers, such as an increased probability of next-generation recruitment in species with greater seed production rates, but only when coupled with large founder sizes. Because most significant barriers to plant translocation success can be overcome by improving techniques or resolving site-level issues through early intervention and management, we suggest that by combining long-term monitoring with adaptive management, translocation programs can enhance the prospects of achieving long-term success.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14190
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • endangered species
  • especie amenazada
  • especie en peligro
  • population restoration
  • reclutamiento de plántulas
  • recuperación de especie
  • reintroducción
  • reintroduction
  • restauración poblacional
  • seedling recruitment
  • species recovery
  • threatened species
  • 出苗
  • 受威胁物种
  • 濒危物种
  • 物种恢复
  • 种群恢复
  • 重引入


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