Raptor introductions, reintroductions or translocations are rare, and the scientific literature associated with them is usually retrospective, considering in a historical context why they have succeeded or failed. The proposed translocation of hen harriers, Circus cyaneus, to southern England, presents an extraordinary opportunity to study a raptor translocation in its early stages and as it unfolds. The ecological drivers of translocation outcomes are manifold: including population viability; Allee effects; demographic stochasticity; environmental fluctuations; diet and other dimensions of ecological niche; prey population dynamics; breeding success; behavioural interactions; dispersal and natal philopatry. The social drivers are similarly manifold: deliberative practices, means of engagement and communications; existing disputes, wider conflicts and policy differences; complex relationships among individuals and stakeholder groups. Ecological and social processes are likely to interact, both in anticipation of and during the translocation. Incorporating social-ecological approaches will bring new insights into conservation practice in contested arenas.
This PhD will take a broad view of raptor translocations, using the case study of hen harriers in England, to deepen our understanding of the ecological and social drivers of the outcomes of these important conservation actions.