Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Any despot at my table? competition among native and introduced bird species at garden birdfeeders in winter.

Abstract

Garden bird feeding constitutes a massive provision of food that can support bird communities, but there is a growing concern it might favour the establishment of exotic species that could be detrimental to others. How bird species compete with novel species for this anthropogenic food resources needs to be assessed. Here, we investigated competition in wintering bird communities at garden birdfeeders. We evaluated whether - and how much - bird access to resources is hampered by the presence of putative superior competing species, among which the Rose-ringed parakeet, the most abundant introduced species across Europe. Using the nation-wide citizen science scheme BirdLab, in which volunteers record in real-time bird attendance on a pair of birdfeeders during 5-minute sessions, we tested whether (i) cumulative bird presence time and richness at birdfeeders, and (ii) species probability of presence at birdfeeders, were influenced by three large species (the Eurasian magpie, the Eurasian collared-dove, and the Rose-ringed parakeet). Additionally, we assessed whether the Rose-ringed parakeet occupied resources significantly more than others. Presence of the Rose-ringed parakeet or the Eurasian collared-dove similarly reduced community cumulative presence time at birdfeeders, but only the dove reduced community richness. Each of the three large species influenced the presence of at least one of the six smaller species that could be separately modelled, but effects varied in strength and direction. The Rose-ringed parakeet and the Eurasian collared-dove were among the three species monopolising birdfeeders the longest, substantially more than the Eurasian magpie. Our findings confirm the competitive abilities of the large species studied, but do not suggest that garden bird feeding may alarmingly favour introduced species with detrimental effects on native species. Given the variability of large species' effects on small passerines, direct and indirect interactions among all species must be examined to fully understand the ecological net effects at stake.