The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Risks to health impact on species reintroduction efforts

Disease can affect animals and plants that are moved to new locations through conservation activities.

Wild species that are moved from one location to another for their conservation are often impacted by health issues as a result, a study of case reports has shown.

The findings highlight the need to consider health implications in the strategy and management of relocating plants and animals, according to scientists who did the research.

Their findings could influence reintroduction plans at a time when these are increasingly frequent, owing to loss of biodiversity and the impacts of climate change.

The outcomes could improve the effectiveness of relocating species, which can take the form of boosting populations, species reintroduction, assisted colonisation or ecological replacement, all of which can help to restore wildlife populations and their wider ecosystems.

Disease risks

A team of researchers led by an expert from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Roslin Institute assessed almost 300 case studies in which animal or plant species had been relocated in recent decades.

Diseases including infection, stress-related and husbandry-related disorders were found to be a significant issue in three cases out of 10.

Two-thirds of the case studies experienced other biological problems, in particular predation, adverse climate or weather.

Trauma owing to human-related activities was also commonly reported, especially after the release of species in their new location.

Their study, published in Ecological Solutions and Evidence, involved the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Zoological Society of London, Royal Veterinary College and IUCN Conservation Translocation Specialist Group.

Health has been somewhat overlooked in the field of reintroduction science. In this study, we explore health outcomes in reintroduced animals and plants, and other populations linked to reintroduction. We show why health is important to foster and consider how it fits in in relation to all the ecological, environmental and human-related threats that need to be considered, and overcome, in order for reintroduction projects to be successful.

Katie BeckmannRoyal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies and Roslin Institute

Related links

Scientific publication

Image credit: Bohuš Číčel and WikiCommons

About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies  

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than eight hundred staff and almost fourteen hundred students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.  

The School comprises:  

The Roslin Institute  

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security  

The Roslin Innovation Centre  

The Hospital for Small Animals  

Equine Veterinary Services  

Farm Animal Services  

Easter Bush Pathology  

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education  

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.