Biological Invasions

, Volume 16, Issue 12, pp 2563–2575 | Cite as

Patterns of non-randomness in the composition and characteristics of the Taiwanese bird trade

  • Shan Su
  • Phill Cassey
  • Tim M. Blackburn
Original Paper


The invasion pathway is composed of a sequential series of stages that need to be quantified separately in order properly to understand the invasion process. Here, we examine the composition and characteristics of bird species being sold in the pet bird market in Taiwan. The bird trade in Taiwan is of high volume and financially lucrative. The identity of species in this trade is vital for informing later stages (introduction, establishment, spread) of the invasion pathway. We conducted interviews and surveys of 72 outlets selling pet birds from seven cities across Taiwan, from which we identified 247 bird species (within 34 families) for sale. Of these, 170 bird species (from 27 families) are exotic to Taiwan. Using randomization tests, we show that nine families are significantly over-represented in the pet trade (Psittacidae, Muscicapidae, Timaliidae, Sturnidae, Turdidae, Estrildidae, Chloropseidae, Zosteropidae and Fringillidae), and three after sequential Bonferroni correction (Psittacidae, Muscicapidae and Sturnidae). Species that have been identified in Taiwanese pet shops tend to have a larger native geographic range, originate further from the equator, are smaller-bodied, and have more aesthetically-pleasing songs than expected by chance. The native ranges of pet shop species are more likely to be situated in the Indo-Malay and Palearctic biogeographic realms, while fewer species than expected derive from the Neotropic, Afrotropic and Nearctic realms. Our results show that bird species for sale in Taiwan are determined by the interaction of species availability and societal demands.


Invasion pathway Pet bird trade Randomization test Taiwan 



This study received financial support from Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London. We thank C.J. Sha for help with species identification. We also thank Y. Wang and William Chi for providing information on the wild bird trade in Taiwan, and David Orme and Valerie Olson for supplying data on geographic ranges and body sizes.

Supplementary material

10530_2014_686_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (55 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 54 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyZoological Society of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and EnvironmentUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Botany and Zoology, Centre for Invasion BiologyStellenbosch UniversityStellenboschSouth Africa

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