What is it about?

The cornerstone of the recovery plan for the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vitatta) is an active , long-term reintroduction program. Two aviary populations in Puerto Rico are the only source of parrots for release but their ability to be a stable, resilient source into the future has not been evaluated. We conducted a risk assessment of the combined aviary population; we assessed past and current demographic rates and modeled future potential to determine sustainability and production of parrots for proposed releases. We compiled a studbook database on all living and dead individuals in the aviary population, including parentage, sex, and life history events. We analyzed the population’s growth, vital rates, and age/sex structure for the period from 1993 to 2012 . The aviary population grew from N1993 =64 to N2012 =301 with a positive growth rate of 1.10. We used an individual-based model which applied population specific data to simulate future aviary population dynamics. To represent alternate management strategies, we created four scenarios with parrots harvested from the aviary population for release to the reintroduction program based on the parrots’ life stage and the number of parrots in the cohort. Our simulations revealed that the aviary population can be simultaneously managed for sustainability and harvesting of parrots for release. However, without cautious science-based management, overharvesting can jeopardize the sustainability of the aviary population. These results should reassure aviary managers and the recovery team who can continue to plan conservation actions for this species. Our analysis of the aviary breeding program provides a rare opportunity to review progress relative to program objectives over four decades of active management.

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Why is it important?

The successful growth of the Puerto Rican parrot aviary population and its ability to serve as a source for reintroductions supports the 1973 decision to build a breeding program from a small population of 13 parrots.


The Puerto Rican Parrot is an example of how a Flag Ship species will benefit other endangered and threatened species, and the conservation of their habitat. Furthermore, how collaboration between government agencies, educational institutions and NGO's can successfully work together and bring back a species almost from the brink of extinction. It is an honor to be one of the voices of those amazing critters that do not have their own.

Master Jafet Velez-Valentin
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Puerto Rican parrot reintroduction program: Sustainable management of the aviary population, Zoo Biology, January 2014, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21109.
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