Cimadom, Arno ; Ulloa, Angel ; Meidl, PatrickIST Austria ; Zöttl, Markus ; Zöttl, Elisabet ; Fessl, Birgit ; Nemeth, Erwin ; Dvorak, Michael ; Cunninghame, Francesca ; Tebbich, Sabine
Invasive alien parasites and pathogens are a growing threat to biodiversity worldwide, which can contribute to the extinction of endemic species. On the Galápagos Islands, the invasive parasitic fly Philornis downsi poses a major threat to the endemic avifauna. Here, we investigated the influence of this parasite on the breeding success of two Darwin's finch species, the warbler finch (Certhidea olivacea) and the sympatric small tree finch (Camarhynchus parvulus), on Santa Cruz Island in 2010 and 2012. While the population of the small tree finch appeared to be stable, the warbler finch has experienced a dramatic decline in population size on Santa Cruz Island since 1997. We aimed to identify whether warbler finches are particularly vulnerable during different stages of the breeding cycle. Contrary to our prediction, breeding success was lower in the small tree finch than in the warbler finch. In both species P. downsi had a strong negative impact on breeding success and our data suggest that heavy rain events also lowered the fledging success. On the one hand parents might be less efficient in compensating their chicks' energy loss due to parasitism as they might be less efficient in foraging on days of heavy rain. On the other hand, intense rainfalls might lead to increased humidity and more rapid cooling of the nests. In the case of the warbler finch we found that the control of invasive plant species with herbicides had a significant additive negative impact on the breeding success. It is very likely that the availability of insects (i.e. food abundance) is lower in such controlled areas, as herbicide usage led to the removal of the entire understory. Predation seems to be a minor factor in brood loss.
The study was funded by the University of Vienna (Focus of Excellence grant), the Galápagos Conservation Trust, and the Ethologische Gesellschaft e.V.
Cimadom A, Ulloa A, Meidl P, et al. Invasive parasites habitat change and heavy rainfall reduce breeding success in Darwin’s finches. PLoS One. 2014;9(9). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107518
Cimadom, A., Ulloa, A., Meidl, P., Zöttl, M., Zöttl, E., Fessl, B., … Tebbich, S. (2014). Invasive parasites habitat change and heavy rainfall reduce breeding success in Darwin’s finches. PLoS One, 9(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0107518
Cimadom, Arno, Angel Ulloa, Patrick Meidl, Markus Zöttl, Elisabet Zöttl, Birgit Fessl, Erwin Nemeth, Michael Dvorak, Francesca Cunninghame, and Sabine Tebbich. “Invasive Parasites Habitat Change and Heavy Rainfall Reduce Breeding Success in Darwin’s Finches.” PLoS One 9, no. 9 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0107518.
A. Cimadom et al., “Invasive parasites habitat change and heavy rainfall reduce breeding success in Darwin’s finches,” PLoS One, vol. 9, no. 9, 2014.
Cimadom A, Ulloa A, Meidl P, Zöttl M, Zöttl E, Fessl B, Nemeth E, Dvorak M, Cunninghame F, Tebbich S. 2014. Invasive parasites habitat change and heavy rainfall reduce breeding success in Darwin’s finches. PLoS One. 9(9).
Cimadom, Arno, et al. “Invasive Parasites Habitat Change and Heavy Rainfall Reduce Breeding Success in Darwin’s Finches.” PLoS One, vol. 9, no. 9, 0107518, Public Library of Science, 2014, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107518.