Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 156, Supplement 1, pp 15–25 | Cite as

Long after the event, or four things we (should) know about bird invasions

  • Tim M. Blackburn
  • Ellie Dyer
  • Shan Su
  • Phillip Cassey


The most significant single event in the study of alien bird invasions occurred in 1981, with the publication of John L. Long’s seminal book “ Introduced birds of the world” (full title: Introduced birds of the world: The worldwide history, distribution and influence of birds introduced to new environments”; David & Charles Ltd., Newton Abbot, UK). The significance of this book derives not just from its content, but also from its timing, coincident with the 1982 Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) programme on the ecology of biological invasions. It was not long before studies started to appear that exploited the data in Long’s book to address the questions posed by SCOPE regarding alien invasions. As a result, we arguably have a more complete understanding of the invasion process for birds than for any other taxon. Nevertheless, there are still some key issues in the study of bird invasions where understanding is not all it should be. The aim of this review is to highlight four of these issues by arguing that (1) we do not know half so much about bird invasions as we think; (2) propagule pressure promotes invasions; (3) colonization pressure matters; (4) there is no evidence that escape from parasites promotes alien (bird) invasions. We expect some of the views expressed to be controversial, and others less so, but either way we hope this paper will stimulate others to provide better evidence for—or against—our propositions.


Alien Bird Colonization pressure Enemy release hypothesis Invasion John Long Propagule pressure 


Der wichtigste Moment in der Erforschung der Vogelinvasionen war das Erscheinen John L. Long’s Buches „Eingeführte Vögel der Welt“ 1981 [Titel in Englisch: Introduced birds of the world: The worldwide history, distribution and influence of birds introduced to new environments”; David & Charles Ltd., Newton Abbot, UK]. Die Bedeutsamkeit dieses Buches ist nicht nur dem Inhalt geschuldet, sondern auch dem Zeitpunkt. 1982 begann der wissenschaftliche Beirat der Umweltprobleme [Englisch: Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE)] mit seinem Programm über die Ökologie biologischer Invasionen. Kurz danach erschienen die ersten Studien, die Long‘s Daten nutzten um einige der Fragen zu biologischen Invasionen aus dem SCOPE Programm zu beantworten. Auch resultierend daraus haben wir heute unbestreitbar ein weitaus tieferes Verständnis der Invasionsprozesse von Vögeln als für irgendeine andere Artengruppe. Trotz allem gibt es immer noch Lücken im Verständnis von Vogelinvasionen. Das Ziel dieser Übersichtsarbeit ist es vier dieser Lücken zu adressieren, indem wir argumentieren, dass (1) nur halb so viel über Vogelinvasionen wissen, als wir denken; (2) Propagulendruck Invasionen unterstützt; (3) Kolonisierungsdruck eine Rolle spielt; (4) es keine Beweise gibt, dass die Abwesenheit von Parasiten(Vogel-)Invasionen unterstützt. Wir hoffen, dass unsere mehr oder weniger kontroversen Ansichten andere Forscher anregen weitere Beweise für oder gegen unsere Behauptungen zu liefern.



We thank the organizing committee of the 26th International Ornithological Congress for the opportunity to present our work, and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on an earlier version of the paper. This study was supported by the King Saud University Distinguished Scientist Fellowship Program (TMB), and by an ARC Discovery Grant (DP140102319) and Future Fellowship (FT0991420) to PC.


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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim M. Blackburn
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Ellie Dyer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shan Su
    • 1
    • 2
  • Phillip Cassey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, Centre for Biodiversity and Environment ResearchUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of ZoologyZoological Society of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and ZoologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa
  5. 5.Distinguished Scientist Fellowship ProgramKing Saud UniversityRiyadhSaudi Arabia

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