UBC Graduate Research

Demographic consequences of invasion by a native, controphic competitor to an insular bird population Johnson, Kate Marie; Germain, Ryan Ross; Tarwarter, C. E.; Arcese, Peter


Species invasions and range shifts can lead to novel competitive interactions between historically resident and colonizing species, but the demographic consequences of such interactions remain controversial. We present results from field experiments and 45 yrs of demographic monitoring to test the hypothesis that the colonization of Mandarte Is., BC, Canada, by fox sparrows (Passerella iliaca) caused the long-term decline of the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) population resident there. Several lines of evidence indicate that competition with fox sparrows for winter food reduced over-winter survival in juvenile song sparrows, enforcing population decline despite an increase in annual reproductive rate in song sparrows over the same period. In contrast, we found no evidence of interspecific competition for resources during the breeding season. Our results indicate that in the absence of a sufficient ecological or evolutionary shift in niche dimension, range expansions by dominant competitors have the potential to cause the extirpation of historically resident species when competitive interactions between them are strong and resources not equitably partitioned.

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