Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Loss of functional diversity through anthropogenic extinctions of island birds is not offset by biotic invasions.

Abstract

Human impacts reshape ecological communities through the extinction and introduction of species. The combined impact of these factors depends on whether non-native species fill the functional roles of extinct species, thus buffering the loss of functional diversity. This question has been difficult to address, because comprehensive information about past extinctions and their traits is generally lacking. We combine detailed information about extinct, extant, and established alien birds to quantify historical changes in functional diversity across nine oceanic archipelagos. We found that alien species often equal or exceed the number of anthropogenic extinctions yet apparently perform a narrower set of functional roles as current island assemblages have undergone a substantial and ubiquitous net loss in functional diversity and increased functional similarity among assemblages. Our results reveal that the introduction of alien species has not prevented anthropogenic extinctions from reducing and homogenizing the functional diversity of native bird assemblages on oceanic archipelagos.