Severe and rapid population declines in exotic birds

Kevin Aagaard, Julie L. Lockwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A particularly vexing phenomenon within invasion ecology is the occurrence of spontaneous collapses within seemingly well-established exotic populations. Here, we assess the frequency of collapses among 68 exotic bird populations established in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles and Miami. Following other published definitions, we define a ‘collapse’ as a decline in abundance of ≥90 % within ≤10 years that lasts for at least 3 years. We show that 44 of the 68 exotic bird populations have exhibited declines at some point within their time series. Sixteen of the populations declined sufficiently to be defined as collapsed. It took on average 3.8 ± 1.8 years for populations to decline into a collapsed state, and this state persisted on average for 7.1 ± 6.3 years across (collapsed) populations. We compared the severity and duration of declines across all 44 declining populations according to taxonomic Order and geographic region. Neither variable explained substantial variation in the metrics of collapse. Our results indicate that severe, rapid, and persistent population declines may be common among exotic populations. We suggest that incorporating the probability and persistence of collapses into management decisions can inform efforts to enact control or eradication measures. We also suggest that applying our approach to other taxa and locations is crucial for improving our understanding of when and where collapses are likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1667-1678
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


  • Audubon Christmas Bird Counts
  • Exotic birds
  • Island
  • Population dynamics
  • Statistical simulation


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