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An anthropogenic habitat facilitates the establishment of non-native birds by providing underexploited resources

Sullivan, MJP and Franco, AMA and Mossman, HL and Davies, RG (2016) An anthropogenic habitat facilitates the establishment of non-native birds by providing underexploited resources. PLoS One, 10 (8). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

Anthropogenic modification of habitats may reduce the resources available for native species, leading to population declines and extinction. These same habitats often have the highest richness of non-native species. This pattern may be explained if recently human-modified habitats provide novel resources that are more accessible to non-native species than native species. Using non-native birds in the Iberian Peninsula as a case study, we conduct a large-scale study to investigate whether non-native species are positively associated with human modified habitats, and to investigate whether this positive association may be driven by the presence of resources that are not fully exploited by native species. We do this by comparing the functional diversity and resource use of native and non-native bird communities in a recently human-modified habitat (rice fields) and in more traditional habitats in the Iberian Peninsula. The functional diversity of native bird communities was lower in rice fields, but non-native birds were positively associated with rice fields and plugged this gap. Differences in resource use between native and non-native species allowed non-native species to exploit resources that were plentiful in rice fields, supporting the role of underexploited resources in driving the positive association of non-native birds with rice fields. Our results provide a potential mechanism explaining the positive association of non-native species with anthropogenic habitats, and further work is needed to test if this applies more generally.

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