Climate anomalies and competition reduce establishment success during island colonization (2022) Nicholson et al., Ecology and Evolution, https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.9402
The colonisation of islands by species on the move has given rise to some of the most fascinating ecosystems around the world. Think the marsupials of Australia, Papua New Guinea’s Birds of paradise, or the multitudes of weird and wonderful creatures that pop up in tiny unexpected landmasses around the globe. On the flipside, invasive species arriving on islands can hit like veritable hurricanes, with similar (though admittedly slightly slower-moving) effects. Yet for these phenomena to take place, a species first has to make it to an island from the mainland. This isn’t always super easy, seeing as islands may be tiny and hard to find, or way out in the middle of nowhere.
But even if they do arrive, whether or not a species is able to persist depends a lot on circumstance. If a large storm or drought hits (increasingly likely with climate change upping the frequency of extreme weather events) just after a species arrives on an island, it might wipe them out before they’ve even gotten started. A competitor already having set up shop there could decrease a species’ survival chances too. Today’s authors were lucky enough to have introduced a new species to a series of islands with and without competitors, all of which were hit by a drought just after one of the introductions. Let’s see how the populations fared.Read more