Relationships between alien plants and an alien bird species on Reunion Island.
Many studies have shown that plant or bird invasions can be facilitated by native species, but few have demonstrated the possibility of a positive interaction between introduced species. We analysed the relationships between four invasive alien fleshy-fruited plants, Clidemia hirta, Rubus alceifolius, Lantana camara, Schinus terebinthifolius, and an invasive alien bird, the red-whiskered bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus introduced to Reunion Island (Indian Ocean). We compared the distribution of food items in the bulbul diet according to seasons and to abundance classes of this bird. Pycnonotus jocosus is mostly frugivorous and frequently eats the main alien plants (more than 80% frequency of food items). Sites with alien species, such as Clidemia hirta, providing fruits throughout the year supported more birds than sites providing fruits, such as Schinus terebinthifolius, seasonally. The birds facilitated seed germination by removing the pulp of fruit: the final per cent germination (FG) of cleaned seeds was higher than those within the fruit for three of the four plant species and in some cases passage through birds significantly increased FG (Schinus terebinthifolius) or Coefficient of Velocity (CV) (Lantana camara).