Developing Hand-Rearing Techniques for the Conservation of Altricial Passerines

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Raptor Biology



Major Advisor

John Marzluff


With accelerating declines in populations of species of birds, managers have been exploring methods of species preservation and restoration (Jones et al. 1981, Hunt 1983, Cade 1986). Realizing that previous passive management techniques were not saving or protecting all natural populations, biologists began captive propagation in order to restore populations of species that would not survive without immediate action (Conway 1979). Ideally, restoring a species' natural habitat to its original condition or eliminating the decimating factors would be preferred to such an intensive project as captive propagation (Lacy 1994). However, humans have extensively altered so much land that it is difficult to return species' original habitats to their previous "pristine" state (Temple 1977, Ehrlich and Ehrlich 1981, Kellert 1984). For species such as the Guam rail (Rallus owstoni) that were eradicated due to introduced exotics, removing the introduced species will take considerable time and money (Merton 1977, Savidge 1987). Opponents of species restoration believe that captive propagation should be a last resort to passive management of the last individuals left in the wild because it is expensive, requires a tremendous amount of cooperation among many governmental and private organizations, and the gene pool of the remaining individuals may be too small to maintain a healthy population that could withstand genetic changes and natural selection (Conway 1977, Temple 1977, Conway 1986, Scott et al. 1986, Temple 1986).

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