Why Are Exotic Birds So Successful in Urbanized Environments?

  • Daniel SolEmail author
  • Cesar González-Lagos
  • Oriol Lapiedra
  • Mario Díaz


Many nonindigenous organisms, including birds, are often restricted to human-altered environments within the region of introduction. The classical explanation is that human-related alterations make the environment easier to invade by reducing biotic resistance and offering new niche opportunities. However, the pattern may also reflect that many more species have been introduced in human-altered environments and/or that traits associated with invasion success and the ability to thrive in these environments are related. In this chapter, we argue that if we want to fully understand why exotic organisms are mainly successful in human-altered environments, we need to see the invasion process as a set of stages with different probabilities of being transited. Applied to birds, this framework suggests that there is a high probability that an exotic species ends up associated with human-altered environments if the species: (1) is more abundant (and hence more available for introduction) in urbanized environments; (2) has a higher chance to be successfully transported, as it is already habituated to humans; and (3) has a higher probability to be introduced in an urbanized environment, where most humans live. If these arguments are true, then the exotic species is likely to successfully establish itself in the new region because the species should already have the traits needed to persist in the novel environment. Although more supporting evidence is needed, the proposed framework provides a general solution for the paradox that many invaders are more successful in the new environment than most native species.


Biological invasions Invasion success Biotic resistance Novel niches Life history Anthropocene 



We are grateful to Enrique Murgui and Marcus Hedblom for inviting us to contribute to the present book, and to Louis Lefebvre, Richard Duncan, Tim Blackburn, Phill Cassey, Joan Maspons, Miquel Vall-llosera, Nacho Bartomeus, Montse Vilà, Joan Pino, Salit Kark, Sven Bacher, Wojciech Solarz, Wolfgang Nentwig, Simon Reader and Diego Vasquez for fruitful discussions over the past years. This work was supported by a Proyecto de Investigación (ref. CGL2013-47448-P) from the Spanish government to DS and is a contribution by MD to the thematic networks GlobiMed and REMEDINAL. CGL is supported by the project PUC1203-MECESUP P. Universidad Católica de Chile and Ministerio de Educación, Chile.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Sol
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cesar González-Lagos
    • 3
    • 4
  • Oriol Lapiedra
    • 5
  • Mario Díaz
    • 6
  1. 1.CREAF (Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications)Barcelona, EspanyaSpain
  2. 2.CSIC (Spanish National Research Council)Bellaterra, CataloniaSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias BiológicasPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability (CAPES)Pontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  5. 5.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  6. 6.Department of Biogeography and Global Change (BGC-MNCN-CSIC)National Museum of Natural SciencesMadridSpain

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