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Density Compensation in Island Faunas

Robert H. MacArthur, Jared M. Diamond and James R. Karr
Ecology
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Mar., 1972), pp. 330-342
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/1934090
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1934090
Page Count: 13
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Density Compensation in Island Faunas
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Abstract

This paper analyzes factors determining the extent of density compensation on islands: i.e., is the summed population density of individuals of all species on islands equal to the summed mainland density as a result of niche expansions and higher abundances of island species compensating for the absence of many mainland species? In addition, a method is described for estimating bird population densities based on analysis of the time dependence or mist-netting yields. Puercos Island in the Pearl Archipelago off Panama has less than one-third as many resident birds species as comparable mainland habitats. Analysis of the Pearl avifauna suggests that about one-quarter of the island species may be relicts of the Pleistocene land bridge and that the remainder are subsequent over-water colonists. The successful colonists are a highly nonrandom sample of the mainland avifauna in such respects as family composition, social structure, and second-growth habitat origin. Song-based censuses and analysis of mist-netting show that Puercos has a slightly density of individuals than the mainland. Niche shifts between islands and mainland, or among different islands, include habitat expansions, wider ranges of vertical foraging strata, abundance increases checkerboard distribution patterns, and decreased morphological variability. Comparison of the present study with other studies shows that summed population densities on islands may be higher than, comparable to, or less than mainland levels, depending upon the particular island, habitat, and group of animals studied. Among factors affecting the extent of density colonists less appropriate to the vacated habitat, tending to lower island densities; and underrepresentation of large species on islands, tending to increase island population densities for a given biomass.

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