Universidad Pablo de Olavide, de Sevilla

Researchers at UPO set reproductive timing as a constraint on invasion success in the ringnecked parakeet

The match between climate seasonality and timing of reproduction can affect the establishment success of introduced non-native species, beyond the mere effect of climate similarity

Ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

Ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri)

The results of a study led by the student Álvaro Luna Fernández and its director Pim Edelaar, from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemical Engineering of the Pablo de Olavide University, with the collaboration of an international team formed a network of European experts in parrots (ParrotNet), which has been published in the international journal Biological Invasions, support the hypothesis that the reproductive phenology of the Ring-necked parakeet can be a limiting factor for establishment and range expansion in colder climates. These results provide growing support for the hypothesis that the match between climate seasonality and timing of reproduction (or other important life cycle events) can affect the establishment success, invasive potential and distribution range of introduced non-native species, beyond the mere effect of climate similarity.

Climate similarity favors biological invasion, but a match between seasonality in the novel range and the timing of life cycle events of the invader also influences the outcome of species introduction. Yet, phenology effects on invasion success have generally been neglected. This study considers whether a phenological mismatch limits the non-native range of a globally successful invader, the ring-necked parakeet, in Europe. Given the latitudes at which parakeets have established across Europe, they breed earlier than expected based on breeding dates from the native Asian range. Moreover, comparing the breeding dates of European populations to those of parakeets in the native Asian range, to five native breeding bird species in Europe and to the start of the growing season of four native European trees shows that the discrepancy between expected and actual breeding phenology is greater in northern Europe. In these populations, this temporal mismatch appears to have negative effects on hatching success and on population growth rates in years that are colder than average in the first six months. Phenological mismatch also can explain why parakeets from African populations (that are more likely to breed in autumn) have been poor invaders compared to parakeets from Asia.

Invasive species are generally accepted as one of the main threats to global biodiversity, ecosystem services, agriculture and public health. Identifying the invasion dynamics and underlying mechanisms allowing introduced species to establish viable populations in new places is crucial to prevent and mitigate future and ongoing biological invasions.

This species of tropical and subtropical latitudes, ringnecked parakeet, has established independent populations in many countries around the world as a result of releases and escapes of individuals sold as pets. The species is regarded as one of the 100 most invasive species in Europe, showing a remarkable population growth rate of about 19% per year on average in many western and southern European countries.

Álvaro Luna Fernández

Álvaro Luna Fernández

For this study, researches combined published and unpublished phenological data from nine non-native ringnecked parakeet populations, varying in latitude and climate: Tenerife (Canary Islands (Spain): subtropical), Seville (Spain: Mediterranean), Florence (Italy: Mediterranean), populations in Central Israel (Mediterranean), London (United Kingdom: maritime temperate), Brussels (Belgium: maritime temperate), Haarlem (The Netherlands: maritime temperate) and Wiesbaden and Heidelberg (Germany: continental temperate). They also obtained phonological data from the native area (India).

Bibliography: Luna, A., Franz, D., Strubbe, D. et al. Reproductive timing as a constraint on invasion success in the Ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri). Biol Invasions (2017).  doi:10.1007/s10530-017-1436-y


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