Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Patterns of niche conservatism among non-native birds in Europe are dependent on introduction history and selection of variables.

Abstract

Recently, the study of niche dynamics using spatial environmental data and species occurrences has become an active field of research. Several studies report niche shifts between native and invasive populations, but it is debated whether these shifts are biologically meaningful or result from methodological artefacts. Using data on the occurrence of non-native birds in Europe, we assess the prevalence of niche shifts along a selected number of climatic variables and find that although niche differences are frequent, biological explanations are often not necessary. Niche shifts occurred more frequently along variables that were of little ecological importance in the non-native range, and about 75% of the shifts detected do not result from range expansion into different environments but only reflect climatic conditions at introduction locations. Excluding variables exhibiting a niche shift increases the accuracy of predictions of invasion risk generated by native-range based distribution models, evidencing that selection of variables is a crucial step when studying niche changes during biological invasions.