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Are islands more susceptible to be invaded than continents? Birds say no

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Island communities are generally viewed as being more susceptible to invasion than those of mainland areas, yet empirical evidence is almost lacking. A species-by-species examination of introduced birds in two independent island-mainland comparisons is not consistent with this hypothesis. In the New Zealand-mainland Australia comparison, 16 species were successful in both regions, 19 always failed and only eight had mixed outcomes. Mixed results were observed less often than expected by chance, and in only 5 cases was the relationship in the predicted direction. This result is not biased by differences in introduction effort because, within species, the number of individuals released in New Zealand did not differ significantly from those released in mainland Australia. A similar result emerged in the Hawaiian islands-mainland USA comparison: among the 35 species considered, 15 were successful in both regions, seven always failed and 13 had mixed outcomes. In this occasion, the results fit well to those expected by chance, and in only seven cases was the relationship in the direction predicted. I therefore conclude that, if true, the view that islands are less resistant than continents to invasions is far from universal.

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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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