Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp 1155–1168 | Cite as

Behavioural and genetic interactions between an endangered and a recently-arrived hummingbird

  • Wouter F. D. van Dongen
  • Ilenia Lazzoni
  • Hans Winkler
  • Rodrigo A. Vásquez
  • Cristián F. Estades
Original Paper


The invasion or expansion of non-native species into new geographic areas can pose a major threat to the conservation of biodiversity. These threats are augmented when the newly-arrived species interacts with native species that are already threatened by other ecological or anthropogenic processes. Potential interactions can include both competition for scarce resources and reproductive interference, including hybridisation. Understanding the dynamics of these interactions forms a crucial component of conservation management strategies. A recent contact zone occurs in the north of Chile between the endangered Chilean woodstar (Eulidia yarrellii) and the closely-related and recently-arrived Peruvian sheartail (Thaumastura cora), which expanded its range from Peru into Chile during the 1970s. We characterised the interactions between the species by combining population size estimates with molecular, morphological and behavioural data. We show that a low degree of hybridisation, but not introgression, is occurring between the two species. Despite interspecific morphological similarities, behavioural observations indicate that food niche overlap between the species is relatively low, and that the dietary breadth of sheartails is larger, which may have aided the species’ range expansion. Finally, woodstars dominate the sheartails in male–male territorial interactions. However, potentially increased energetic costs for woodstars associated with frequent territorial chases and courtship displaying with sheartails may exacerbate the effects of other threats on woodstar viability, such as human-induced habitat modification. This study highlights the value of implementing multidisciplinary approaches in conservation biology to gain a more complete understanding of interactions between recently-arrived and endangered species.


Contact zones Eulidia yarrellii Hummingbirds Hybridisation Resource competition Thaumastura cora 



We thank Fernando Medrano, Javiera Pantoja, Chris Clark, Teresa Feo, Anand Varma, Jen Marks and Clare Brown for field assistance, many volunteers for assisting with the census counts and all the landowners, especially Maria Teresa Madrid, for allowing us to work on their properties. We thank Yoshan Moodley, Anna Grasse, Gopi Munimanda and Hanja Brandl for assistance or advice concerning molecular work and two anonymous referees for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. The Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science and the University of New Mexico, Museum of Southwestern Biology Division of Birds kindly provided sheartail tissue samples from their collection. Research was conducted with approval by the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Sciences, Universidad de Chile and under a permits issued by the Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero, Chile (permit numbers: 5163 and 3291). This project was funded by the Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico, Chile (3090036 to W.V.D. and 1060186 and 1090794 to R.A.V.), the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (ICM-P05-002, PFB-23-CONICYT), the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.

Supplementary material

10530_2012_358_MOESM1_ESM.doc (77 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 77 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wouter F. D. van Dongen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ilenia Lazzoni
    • 4
  • Hans Winkler
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rodrigo A. Vásquez
    • 3
    • 5
  • Cristián F. Estades
    • 4
  1. 1.Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Department of Integrative Biology and EvolutionVeterinary University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Konrad Lorenz Institute of EthologyThe Austrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  3. 3.Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Laboratorio de Ecologia de Vida Silvestre, Departamento de Gestión Forestal y Medio Ambiente, Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Conservación de la NaturalezaUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile
  5. 5.Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile

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