Range expansion by Passer montanus in North America


Passer montanus became established in a small area of central North America following its introduction in 1870. P. montanus underwent minimal range expansion in the first 100 years following introduction. However, the North American population of P. montanus is now growing in size and expanding in geographic distribution, having expanded approximately 125 km to the north by 1970. We quantify the distance of spread by P. montanus from its introduction site in the greater St. Louis, Missouri-Illinois, USA area, using distributional (presence) data from the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count surveys for the period of 1951 to 2014. Linear regressions of the average annual range center of P. montanus confirmed significant shifts to the north at a rate of 3.3 km/year (P < 0.001) km/year. Linear regressions of the linear and angular distance of range center indicates significant northern movement (change in angle of mean range center; P < 0.001) since 1951. Our results quantify the extent of a northward range expansion, and suggesting a probable spread of this species northward.

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We are grateful to the volunteers of the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count and to the National Audubon Society for making their extensive data available for use. We thank D. U. Greene, N. B. Price and two anonymous reviewers whose comments greatly improved the manuscript. The Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is jointly supported by a cooperative agreement among the U.S. Geological Survey, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the University of Nebraska, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Wildlife Management Institute. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Correspondence to J. L. Burnett.

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Burnett, J.L., Roberts, C.P., Allen, C.R. et al. Range expansion by Passer montanus in North America. Biol Invasions 19, 5–9 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-016-1273-4

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  • Passer montanus
  • Range expansion
  • Spread
  • Non-indigenous
  • Christmas Bird Count