Nest-site utilisation and niche overlap in two sympatric, cavity-nesting finches

James Brazill-Boast*, Sarah R. Pryke, Simon C. Griffith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Determining the relative access of a species to critical limiting resources requires knowledge of the spectrum of their resource utilisation (niche space) and that of potential competitors, and the frequency distribution of resources in the environment. We used this theoretical framework to assess the relative access to nesting sites and the potential for interspecific competition between two sympatric cavity-nesting finches. Gouldian (Erythrura gouldiae) and Long-tailed (Poephila acuticauda) Finches are both estrildid finches with similar ecological requirements, gross morphology and geographical ranges. By measuring the characteristics of all tree-cavities in an area of breeding habitat, and identifying those used by each of the two species, we were able to quantify the relationship between total available variation and variation in use by Gouldian and Long-tailed Finches. Using a likelihood-based method, we found that Long-tailed Finches exhibited a broader niche than Gouldian Finches with respect to available variation, and that these niches overlapped. Using these data we estimated that the effective availability of suitable nesting sites for Long-tailed Finches was 38% greater than for Gouldian Finches. Their relatively specialised niche and overlap with a more generalist competitor has the potential to constrain reproduction for Gouldian Finches, and will have implications for the conservation of remaining populations of this endangered species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-177
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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