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CZAAWE Resource Article
Captive breeding for reintroduction: influence of management practices and biological factors on survival of captive kaki (black stilt)
Year of publication
Y van Heezik
Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
Abstract 10.1002/zoo.20065.abs An important component of the restoration strategy for the critically endangered kaki or black stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) is captive breeding for release. Since 1981 1,879 eggs were collected from wild and captive pairs, with birds laying up to four clutches. Eggs were incubated artificially and most chicks reared by hand until released as juveniles (about 60 days) or sub-adults (9–10 months). Because survival in captivity is a significant determinant of the number of birds available for release, we wished to identify sources of variation in mortality to assess potential impacts of management on productivity. Hatchability was 78% for captive-laid eggs and 91% for wild-laid eggs. Survival of hatched eggs was 82% by 10 months of age for both wild and captive birds. Most egg mortality occurred early in incubation and around hatching: the timing of mortality was unaffected by whether birds were captive or wild, hybrid or pure kaki, or when eggs were laid. Heavier hatchlings showed higher initial survival, as did chicks from wild parents. Hatchlings from fourth-laid eggs showed lowest survival, even though hatchling mass tended to increase with hatch order. Survival of chicks subjected to major health interventions was 69% after 4 months. No differences in survival were found between different genders, hybrids and pure kaki, hand-reared or parent-reared birds, chicks hatching early or late in the season, different seasons, different-sized groups of chicks, chicks reared in different brooders, juveniles kept in different aviaries, and chicks from subsequent clutches. Birds subjected to minor health interventions were equally likely to survive as healthy chicks (82%). Survival was high despite aggressive management (quadruple clutching and collecting late in the season). Differences between captive and wild birds suggest further improvements could be made to captive diet. Wide variation in hatchability between parent pairs substantiates the practice of breaking up poorly performing pairs. Zoo Biol 0:1–16, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.