NCEAS Product 20669

Blackburn, Tim M.; Gaston, Kevin J. 2005. Biological invasions and the loss of birds on islands: Insights into the idiosyncrasies of extinction. Edited by Sax, Dov F.; Stachowicz, John J.; Gaines, Steven D.. Species Invasions: Insights into Ecology, Evolution, and Biogeography. Sinauer Associates, Inc.. Sunderland, Massachusetts. Pages 85-110. (Abstract) (Online version)


The spread of humans around the globe in the last few millenia has led (and is leading) to the alteration of virtually all ecological systems as exotic species become established and native species are driven to extinction. These two processes are connected: indeed, since an exotic species can be defined as one transported and introduced to a new location by human agency, which definition clearly includes Homo sapiens, the vast majority of all recent extinctions can probably be attributed to the action of exotics. However, obviously not all native species go extinct following human arrival. In this chapter, we review the characteristics that typify species driven extinct by invaders, focusing on extinction of birds, with the aim of using these invasion-driven events to further understanding of the extinction process. We show that avian extinction is not a random process with respect to either species or location. Patterns in extinction can be explained at least in part by the characteristics of exotic invaders and by environmental changes wrought by them. However, these conclusions must be tempered by the certainty that of the bird species that have disappeared in the recent extinction crisis, only a fraction are known.