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Establishment success of invasive ring-necked and monk parakeets in Europe

Diederik Strubbe, Erik Matthysen
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Journal Article
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Aim: Invasive alien species are a growing threat to biodiversity, and identifying the mechanisms that enable these species to establish viable populations in their new environment is paramount for management of the problems they pose. Using an unusually large number of both failed and successful documented introductions of parakeets (Aves: Psittacidae) in Europe, we test two of the major hypotheses on the establishment success of invading species, namely the climate-matching and the human-activity hypothesis. Location: European human population centres where ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri) and/or monk parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) introductions have occurred. Methods: Data on ring-necked and monk parakeet introductions in Europe were gathered from various sources, including published books and articles, but also from unpublished reports and local grey literature. Information was verified with experts from the region under consideration. In order to test the climate-matching hypothesis, we verified whether the climatic factors that determine the parakeets’ native ranges also explain establishment success in Europe. Parakeet occurrence data from the native ranges were analysed using the presence-only modelling method Maxent, and correlations between parakeet establishment and climatic and anthropogenic variables in Europe were assessed using both stepwise logistic regression and the information-theoretic model selection approach. Results: The establishment success of ring-necked and monk parakeets was found to be positively associated with human population density, and, both in the native and in the introduced regions, parakeet occurrence was negatively correlated with the number of frost days. Thus, parakeets are more likely to establish in warmer and human-dominated areas. Main conclusions The large number of independent parakeet introductions in Europe allows us to test the often-used climate-matching and human-activity hypotheses at the species level. We show that both hypotheses offer insight into the invasion process of monk and ring-necked parakeets. Our results suggest that, in the future, parakeet establishment probability may increase even further because global warming is likely to cause a decrease in the number of frost days and because urbanization and human populations are still increasing.

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