Motuora is the new home for ninety Duvaucel’s geckos. The lizards were released at three sites across the island in February and March 2013. Sixty geckos were collected from Korapuki and Kawhitu islands (Mercury Group), and the remainder were born and raised at the Massey University Reptile Facility. The new arrivals supplement a small resident population that was re-introduced to Motuora in 2006.
Duvaucel’s geckos are long-lived and some individuals can reach 50 years or more of age
(photo: C. Wedding)
Lizards, such as these large geckos, used to be a major component in the food-webs of many of New Zealand’s terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, they were also important seed dispersers and pollinators.
The translocation and associated monitoring project are a joint endeavour between researchers from Massey University, the Motuora Restoration Society and the Supporters of Tiritiri Matangi (which received the same number of geckos). The releases are part of ongoing ecosystem restoration efforts, which aim to re-establish viable populations of Duvaucel’s geckos on both islands that persist in the long-term.
Preparing gecko collection boxes on Korapuki
Individual transport tubes
The translocations also represent an exciting opportunity to compare the post-release behaviours and reproductive performance of captive bred and wild captured individuals. The information gained will help to assess the use of captive breeding for release as an option for restoration projects.
Several geckos were fitted with a “backpack” that contains a small radio transmitter unit. Massey University researchers are currently tracking the movements of these lizards to explore their dispersal patterns.
Attaching a radio transmitter
Gecko with radio transmitter backpack
The population will be closely monitored by MRS volunteers and MU researchers for at least five more years to gain a better understanding of the species’ post-translocation responses, behaviours and population ecology.
For any project related enquiries please contact Manuela Barry (firstname.lastname@example.org)
until next time,
A huge thank you to everyone involved in the planning, preparation and implementation of this community funded translocation project. Particularly, I would like to thank MRS, the Department of Conservation, Massey University staff and students, the Motuora Rangers, Iwi and all volunteers for their remarkable efforts and continuous support. This project is a great example of how restoration focused conservation work and research can be linked to gather valuable-long-term data that will benefit the conservation management of Duvaucel’s geckos. The involvement of community volunteers in post-release monitoring and research activities will provide fantastic opportunities for conservation advocacy, education and skill building.