Determinants of Data Deficiency in the impacts of alien bird species

7 November 2017

Evans, Thomas; Pigot, Alex; Kumschick, Sabrina; Sekercioglu, Cagan; Blackburn, Tim

To identify the factors that influence the availability of data on the negative impacts of alien bird species, in order to understand why more than 70% are currently classified as Data Deficient (DD) by the Environmental Impact Classification of Alien Taxa (EICAT) protocol.


Information on factors hypothesised to influence the availability of impact data were collated for 344 alien bird species (107 with impact data and 237 DD). These data were analysed using mixed effects models accounting for phylogenetic non-independence of species (MCMCglmm).

Data deficiency in the negative impacts of alien birds is not randomly distributed. Residence time, relative brain size and alien range size were found to be strongly related to the availability of data on impacts.

Main conclusions
The availability of data on the negative impacts of alien birds is mainly influenced by the spatial and temporal extents of their alien ranges. The results of this study suggest that the impacts of some DD alien birds are likely to be minor (e.g. species with comparatively long residence times as aliens, such as the common waxbill (Estrilda astrild) and the Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora)). However, the results also suggest that some DD alien birds may have damaging impacts (e.g. species from orders of alien birds known for their impacts to biodiversity but with comparatively small alien ranges, such as the New Caledonian crow (Corvus moneduloides)). This implies that at least some DD alien birds may have impacts that are being overlooked. Studies examining the traits that influence the severity of alien bird impacts are needed to help to predict which DD species are more likely to impact upon biodiversity.