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Ecological Consequences of Island Colonization by Southwest Pacific Birds, II. The Effect of Species Diversity on Total Population Density

Jared M. Diamond
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 67, No. 4 (Dec. 15, 1970), pp. 1715-1721
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/60559
Page Count: 7
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Ecological Consequences of Island Colonization by Southwest Pacific Birds, II. The Effect of Species Diversity on Total Population Density
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Abstract

Among southwest Pacific birds colonizing a species-poor island from a species-rich island, spatial expansion of the niche to include a wider range of altitudes, habitats, or vertical strata is often an immediate response, while changes in foraging techniques and diet usually occur more slowly and require genotypic change. Despite occupation of spatially broader niches by some colonizing species and increases in abundance by others, the total population density of the whole avifauna is up to nine times lower on a species-poor island than in a comparable habitat on a species-rich island. Total population density varies among islands approximately linearly with the number of species in the lowlands, supralinearly at higher elevations. Part of the explanation is that many birds on small islands expand into niche space which is suboptimal for them and from which they would be excluded by species utilizing this niche space optimally on a species-rich island. The other suggested explanation is an intrinsic inefficiency or loss of fitness among populations on small Pacific islands compared to large-island populations, due to impoverished gene pools, reduced selection pressure, and low degree of endemism.

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