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Patterns of bird invasion are consistent with environmental filtering


B. S. Maitner, Rice Univ., Dept of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Houston, TX 77005, USA. E-mail:


Predicting invasion potential has global significance for managing ecosystems as well as important theoretical implications for understanding community assembly. Phylogenetic relationships of introduced species to the extant community may be predictive of establishment success because of the opposing forces of competition/shared enemies (which should limit invasions by close relatives) versus environmental filtering (which should allow invasions by close relatives). We examine here the association between establishment success of introduced birds and their phylogenetic relatedness to the extant avifauna within three highly invaded regions (Florida, New Zealand, and Hawaii). Published information on both successful and failed introductions, as well as native species, was compiled for all three regions. We created a phylogeny for each avifauna including all native and introduced bird species. From the estimated branch lengths on these phylogenies, we calculated multiple measurements of relatedness between each introduced species and the extant avifauna. We used generalized linear models to test for an association between relatedness and establishment success. We found that close relatedness to the extant avifauna was significantly associated with increased establishment success for exotic birds both at the regional (Florida, Hawaii, New Zealand) and sub-regional (islands within Hawaii) levels. Our results suggest that habitat filtering may be more important than interspecific competition in avian communities assembled under high rates of anthropogenic species introductions. This work also supports the utility of community phylogenetic methods in the study of vertebrate invasions.