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Interspecific competition between introduced house finch populations and two associated passerine species


House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus), natives of western North America, have expanded their range in the eastern United States since their 1940 release in New York City. Range and the relation of House Finch population growth to the population dynamics of House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) and Purple Finches (Carpodacus purpureus) were examined, using data from the Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count. The House Finch population grew exponentially throughout its eastern range. Significant negative relationships in population density, relative to spatial and temporal control populations, were found between House Finches and House Sparrows in summer and winter, and between House Finches and Purple Finches in summer. Purple Finch and House Sparrow populations outside of the House Finch range appeared to have no effect on each other throughout the study. Neither changes in 74 weather variables, nor changes in forest, field or developed habitat explained the observed trends in population density. The results indicate that House Finches compete with these two species, but winter migration complicates the picture.

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Wootton, J.T. Interspecific competition between introduced house finch populations and two associated passerine species. Oecologia 71, 325–331 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00378703

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Key words

  • Interspecific competition
  • Introduced finches
  • Carpodacus
  • Passer