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VORTEX computer simulations were used to assess the viability of a small breeding flock of common cranes, recently established in Norfolk. Investigations were also conducted on the relative impact of various management options. Raising the carrying capacity of the site had little influence on the survival of the flock. However, great improvements were associated with increases in the size of the founder flock and reductions in the mortality rates of chicks and adults. Regularly supplementing the population increased flock survival times: for a fixed total number of birds added, frequently supplementing with few birds produced the best results. Immigration from the population in continental Europe also increased persistence of the flock, and it is possible that immigration rates will improve as the British flock expands. Strategies including captive breeding, and regular supplementation of the flock, may be the most effective means of ensuring the viability of the Norfolk cranes. The potential value of simulation models in guiding management of small populations is discussed. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Biological Conservation

Publication Date





323 - 333