Does Human-Induced Habitat Modification Influence the Impact of Introduced Species? A Case Study on Cavity-Nesting by the Introduced Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) and Two Australian Native Parrots

Abstract

Introduced species pose a major threat to biodiversity across the globe. Understanding the impact of introduced species is critical for effective management. Many species around the world are reliant on tree cavities, and competition for these resources can be intense: threatening the survival of native species. Through the establishment of 225 nest boxes, we examined the relationship between tree density and the abundance and nesting success of three bird species in Canberra, Australia. The common myna (Acridotheres tristis) is an introduced species in Australia, and the crimson rosella (Platycercus elegans) and eastern rosella (Platycercus eximius) are native species. We then investigated the impact of common myna nest box occupation on crimson rosella and eastern rosella abundance. Tree density significantly influenced the abundance and cavity-nesting of all three species. Common myna abundance (birds per square kilometer) was greatest at low tree density sites (101.9 ± 22.4) and declined at medium (45.4 ± 10.1) and high (9.7 ± 3.6) tree density sites. The opposite pattern was observed for the crimson rosella, with greater abundance (birds per square kilometer) at high tree density sites (83.9 ± 9.3), declining over medium (61.6 ± 6.4) and low (31.4 ± 3.9) tree density sites. The eastern rosella was more abundant at medium tree density sites (48.6 ± 8.0 birds per square kilometer). Despite the strong influence of tree density, we found a significant negative relationship between common myna nest box occupancy and the abundance of the crimson rosella (F 1,13 = 7.548, P = 0.017) and eastern rosella (F 1,13 = 9.672, P < 0.001) at some sites. We also observed a slight increase in rosella nesting interruptions by the common myna at lower tree densities (high: 1.3 % ± 1.3, medium: 6.6 % ± 2.2, low: 12.7 % ± 6.2), although this increase was not statistically significant (F 2,40 = 2.435, P = 0.100). Our study provides the strongest evidence to date for the negative impact of the common myna on native bird abundance through cavity-nesting competition. However, due to the strong influence of habitat on species abundance and nesting, it is essential to investigate the impacts of introduced species in conjunction with habitat variation. We also suggest one component of introduced species management could include habitat restoration to reduce habitat suitability for introduced species.

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Acknowledgments

We thank volunteer bird observers, including: Barbara Allen, Heather Allsopp, Judith Bourne, John Brannan, Malcolm Fyfe, Bill Handke, Owen Holton, Anne I’Ons, Daryl King, Sue Lashko, Barbara Levings, Bruce Lindenmayer, Chris Marsh, and Peter Ormay. We also thank Hamish Dalley, Georgia Davis, Max Grarock, and Sara Hanley for their comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This work was undertaken in accordance with animal ethics approval Protocol No. C.RE.51.08 and is supported in part by Stuart Leslie Bird Research Award, BirdLife Australia. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of this organization.

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Correspondence to Kate Grarock.

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Grarock, K., Lindenmayer, D.B., Wood, J.T. et al. Does Human-Induced Habitat Modification Influence the Impact of Introduced Species? A Case Study on Cavity-Nesting by the Introduced Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) and Two Australian Native Parrots. Environmental Management 52, 958–970 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-013-0088-7

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Keywords

  • Competition
  • Exotic species
  • Indian myna
  • Hollow
  • Pest management
  • Sturnus tristis