Interspecific interactions between feral pigs and native birds reveal both positive and negative effects

Daniel J. D. Natusch*, Martin Mayer, Jessica A. Lyons, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In tropical Australian rainforests, predators and scavengers aggregate beneath emergent trees that house large colonies of metallic starlings (Aplonis metallica), feeding in the nutrient-rich open areas below. Analysis of camera-trap records shows that the presence of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) is associated with an absence of birds (cockatoos and brush turkeys), presumably reflecting behavioural avoidance (pigs pose a direct danger to birds). However, bird numbers increase as soon as pigs depart, then fall if pigs are absent for long periods. Feral pigs thus displace native birds from these resource hotspots; but by turning over the soil and enhancing the birds' access to food, the pigs also have a positive impact on food availability for the avifauna. Thus, although invasive species have caused irreparable environmental damages worldwide, they may also provide positive benefits for certain species. The net benefit of such interspecific interactions will depend on the outcome of both positive and negative effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-485
Number of pages7
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume42
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • behavioural avoidance
  • Cape York
  • ecological engineer
  • invasive
  • resource subsidy
  • Sus scrofa

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