High predictability in introduction outcomes and the geographical range size of introduced Australian birds: a role for climate

Authors

  • Richard P. Duncan,

    Corresponding author
    1. Ecology and Entomology Group, Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand;
      Dr Richard P. Duncan, Ecology and Entomology Group, Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand. Fax: 64 3 325 3844; e-mail:duncanr@lincoln.ac.nz
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  • Mary Bomford,

    1. Bureau of Rural Sciences, PO Box E11, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia; and
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  • David M. Forsyth,

    1. Centre for Biodiversity Research, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
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    • §

      Present address: Landcare Research, PO Box 69, Lincoln, Canterbury, New Zealand.

  • Louise Conibear

    1. Bureau of Rural Sciences, PO Box E11, Kingston, ACT 2604, Australia; and
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Dr Richard P. Duncan, Ecology and Entomology Group, Soil, Plant and Ecological Sciences Division, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand. Fax: 64 3 325 3844; e-mail:duncanr@lincoln.ac.nz

Summary

  • 1We investigated factors hypothesized to influence introduction success and subsequent geographical range size in 52 species of bird that have been introduced to mainland Australia.
  • 2The 19 successful species had been introduced more times, at more sites and in greater overall numbers. Relative to failed species, successfully introduced species also had a greater area of climatically suitable habitat available in Australia, a larger overseas range size and were more likely to have been introduced successfully outside Australia. After controlling for phylogeny these relationships held, except that with overseas range size and, in addition, larger-bodied species had a higher probability of introduction success. There was also a marked taxonomic bias: gamebirds had a much lower probability of success than other species. A model including five of these variables explained perfectly the patterns in introduction success across-species.
  • 3Of the successful species, those with larger geographical ranges in Australia had a greater area of climatically suitable habitat, traits associated with a faster population growth rate (small body size, short incubation period and more broods per season) and a larger overseas range size. The relationships between range size in Australia, the extent of climatically suitable habitat and overseas range size held after controlling for phylogeny.
  • 4We discuss the probable causes underlying these relationships and why, in retrospect, the outcome of bird introductions to Australia are highly predictable.

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