Background information and definitions
Megapodes are a family of birds found in East Asia, Australasia and Oceania that build large nest mounds filled with vegetation which rots to heat and incubate the eggs. The chicks are extremely independent and can run immediately after hatching, with some species even able to fly on the day they hatch. As eggs are not incubated by parents, they can be translocated and re-buried elsewhere.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated study on Sulawesi, Indonesia, in 1972-3 and 1978-9 (Mackinnon 1981) found that hatching rates for maleo Macrocephalon maleo eggs translocated from unprotected beaches to a protected nature reserve ranged from 41% (321 of 789 eggs translocated in 1972-3) to 78% (105 of 134 eggs translocated in 1978-9). Guards at the park reported larger numbers of maleo nesting after the second translocation, although this was not confirmed and it was not certain that any extra birds were the translocated individuals. In the second translocation, eggs were buried in the sand in the same position that they were found in (the top of the egg was marked with a cross before removal), whereas in the first experiment they were placed haphazardly in the sand. In addition, in the second translocation, once one chick from a clutch emerged, the others were dug out. It was found that those placed in the wrong orientation died, those buried too deep hatched but the chicks then died tunnelling to the surface. The highest success rates were with eggs buried approximately 25 cm deep (shallower than the 40-70 cm commonly seen in the wild).Study and other actions tested