Native birds and alien insects: spatial density dependence in songbird predation of invading oak gallwasps

Schonrogge, Karsten; Begg, Tracey; Stone, Graham N.. 2013 Native birds and alien insects: spatial density dependence in songbird predation of invading oak gallwasps. PLoS ONE, 8 (1), e53959. 11, pp.

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Revealing the interactions between alien species and native communities is central to understanding the ecological consequences of range expansion. Much has been learned through study of the communities developing around invading herbivorous insects. Much less, however, is known about the significance of such aliens for native vertebrate predators for which invaders may represent a novel food source. We quantified spatial patterns in native bird predation of invading gall-inducing Andricus wasps associated with introduced Turkey oak (Quercus cerris) at eight sites across the UK. These gallwasps are available at high density before the emergence of caterpillars that are the principle spring food of native insectivorous birds. Native birds showed positive spatial density dependence in gall attack rates at two sites in southern England, foraging most extensively on trees with highest gall densities. In a subsequent study at one of these sites, positive spatial density dependence persisted through four of five sequential week-long periods of data collection. Both patterns imply that invading galls are a significant resource for at least some native bird populations. Density dependence was strongest in southern UK bird populations that have had longest exposure to the invading gallwasps. We hypothesise that this pattern results from the time taken for native bird populations to learn how to exploit this novel resource.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment > BD - 2.2 - Quantify the impact of invasive species, pathogens ...
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Hails
ISSN: 1932-6203
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - Official URL link provides full text
Additional Keywords: biological invasions
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 04 Feb 2013 11:36 +0 (UTC)

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