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Invasive ring-necked parakeets Psittacula krameri in Belgium: habitat selection and impact on native birds

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There is a large and growing number of alien species in ecosystems all over the world. In view of this, management efforts should concentrate on invasives that have detrimental effects on native biota. However, action against invasives is often hindered by a lack of relevant ecological information such as the expected distribution and impact of the invader. Our aims were to identify the habitat characteristics that influence ring-necked parakeet abundance in Belgium and to assess the effects of competition for nesting cavities with native hole-nesters. We determined the abundance of parakeets and native hole-nesters in 44 study sites using point counts. We examined the relationship between parakeet numbers and a set of habitat and landscape variables and to assess the effect of competition, we studied the relationships between the number of parakeets and the number of native hole-nesters. We found that parakeet abundance differs between vegetation types based on dominant tree species, and that abundance is higher in forests or parks surrounded by built-up areas. Parakeet numbers were also strongly associated with cavity density, suggesting that this may be a limiting factor. Of the two native hole-nesters considered to be the most vulnerable to competition (nuthatch and starling), we found a negative association with parakeet numbers for the nuthatch only. No relations were found with starlings or any of the other hole-nesting species examined. These findings should be considered in the debate concerning the possible need of action against this species.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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