A population model for predicting the successful establishment of introduced bird species
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One of the strongest generalities in invasion biology is the positive relationship between probability of establishment and the numbers of individuals introduced. Nevertheless, a number of significant questions remain regarding: (1) the relative importance of different processes during introduction (e.g., demographic, environmental, and genetic stochasticity, and Allee effects); (2) the relative effects of propagule pressure (e.g., number of introductions, size of introductions, and lag between introductions); and (3) different life history characteristics of the species themselves. Here, we adopt an individual-based simulation modeling approach to explore a range of such details in the relationship between establishment success and numbers of individuals introduced. Our models are developed for typical exotic bird introductions, for which the relationship between probability of establishment and the numbers of individuals introduced has been particularly well documented. For both short-lived and long-lived species, probability of establishment decreased across multiple introductions (compared with a single introduction of the same total size), and this decrease was greater when inbreeding depression was included. Sensitivity analyses revealed four predictors that together accounted for >95 % of model performance. Of these, R0 (the average number of daughters produced per female over her lifetime) and propagule pressure were of primary importance, while random environmental effects and inbreeding depression exerted lesser influence. Initial founder size is undoubtedly going to be important for ensuring the persistence of introduced populations. However, we found the demographic traits, which influence how introduced individuals behave, to have the greatest effect on establishment success.