ESR prepress abstract  -  DOI:

Breeding success and juvenile survival in a reintroduced captive-bred population of Asian houbara bustards in the United Arab Emirates

Joseph F. Azar*, Toni Chalah, Pierrick Rautureau, Mark Lawrence, Yves Hingrat


ABSTRACT: Identifying factors influencing breeding success in endangered species is vital for undertaking appropriate conservation measures. The reintroduced captive-bred Asian houbara bustard Chlamydotis macqueenii population in reserves of the western United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been closely monitored since first releases in 2005. Based on 8 years of monitoring data, we provide novel information on female breeding probability and breeding success within a desert ecosystem. Additionally, we explore factors influencing some breeding parameters. Female breeding probability was on average 0.14 ± 0.31 SD (0.01 ± 0.03 SD for females less than 1 year old and 0.23 ± 0.38 SD for females older than 1 year). Nest initiation date was influenced by temperature and time. Rainfall during a breeding season increased its length. The estimated nest survival rate for 23 days was 0.52, negatively influenced by nest initiation date. Chick survival rate to the age of 6 weeks was 0.50 ± 0.39 SD, and survival rate of juveniles in their first year was 0.64 ± 0.02 SE. Our results highlight the ability of captive-bred released houbara in the UAE to breed, and of wild born juveniles to survive; two vital prerequisites for a successful reintroduction programme. Furthermore, breeding parameters are similar to the very few reported in other studies of wild resident houbara populations. However, population recruitment rate was low (0.04 individuals per female), resulting mainly from low female breeding probability under harsh weather conditions.