Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 8, pp 2459–2470 | Cite as

Seasonal responses of avian communities to invasive bush honeysuckles (Lonicera spp.)

  • Courtney E. McCusker
  • Michael P. Ward
  • Jeffrey D. Brawn
Original Paper


Invasive bush honeysuckles, Lonicera spp., are widely viewed as undesirable; however, the effects of Lonicera spp. on native fauna are largely unknown. We investigated how breeding and overwintering bird communities respond to the presence of Lonicera spp. by comparing communities in forested areas with Lonicera spp. to those with a native shrub understory. The dense understory created by Lonicera spp. was associated with a change in the breeding bird community. We found large increases in the densities of understory bird species (e.g. northern cardinals) and decreases in select canopy species (e.g. eastern wood-pewees) in Lonicera spp. sites. In winter, we observed greater densities of frugivorous birds (e.g. American robins) likely due to the fruits that remain on Lonicera spp.; however, there was no difference in the community composition between sites with and without Lonicera spp. Given the widespread distribution of Lonicera spp., this invasive species may facilitate the population increase and range expansion of selected bird species. Many bird species appear to utilize Lonicera spp. for nesting and foraging; therefore, its removal should be accompanied by restoring native shrubs that provide needed resources.


Avian communities Invasive plants Lonicera Honeysuckle 



We thank M. Alessi, T. Beveroth, R. Johnson, T. McCusker and K. McCusker for help in the field and J. Ellis for plant identification. Access to field sites was obtained from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, University of Illinois, Illinois Nature Preserve Commission, Champaign County Forest Preserve and William Taylor. Funding was provided by the Illinois Natural History Survey and the Illinois Wildlife Preservation Fund. We appreciate helpful comments from Daniel Simberloff and two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Courtney E. McCusker
    • 1
  • Michael P. Ward
    • 1
  • Jeffrey D. Brawn
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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