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Are invasive species drivers of native species decline or passengers of habitat modification? A case study of the impact of the common myna (Acridotheres tristis) on Australian bird species

Authors

  • Kate Grarock,

    Corresponding author
    1. Australia Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
    2. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia
    • Corresponding author.

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  • Christopher R. Tidemann,

    1. Australia Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
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  • Jeffrey T. Wood,

    1. Australia Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
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  • David B. Lindenmayer

    1. Australia Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia
    2. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, Canberra, ACT, Australia
    3. National Environmental Research Program, Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Abstract

Habitat modification and invasive species are significant drivers of biodiversity decline. However, distinguishing between the impacts of these two drivers on native species can be difficult. For example, habitat modification may reduce native species abundance, while an invasive species may take advantage of the new environment. This scenario has been described as the driver-passenger model, with ‘passengers’ taking advantage of habitat modification and ‘drivers’ causing native species decline. Therefore, research must incorporate both habitat modification and invasive species impact to successfully investigate native species decline. In this paper, we used the common myna (Acridotheres tristis) as a case study to investigate the driver-passenger model. We investigated changes in bird abundance, over 2 years, in relation to different habitat types and common myna abundance. We hypothesized that the common myna is both a passenger of habitat change and a driver of some bird species decline. Our results indicated that the abundance of many native species is greater in high tree density nature reserves, while the common myna was uncommon in these areas. Common myna abundance was almost three times higher in urban areas than nature reserves and declined rapidly as tree density in nature reserves increased. Our findings indicated that the common myna is primarily a passenger of habitat change. However, we also observed negative associations between common myna abundance and some bird species. We stress the importance of simultaneously investigating both invasive species impact and habitat modification. We suggest habitat restoration could be a useful tool for both native species recovery and invasive species control. Understanding the drivers of native species decline will help inform impact mitigation and direct further research.

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