Behavioural dominance of the invasive red-billed leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea) over European native passerine-birds in a feeding context

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Behavioural dominance and aggressiveness may be crucial traits facilitating the establishment of invasive species. Few studies considered agonistic interactions between exotic and native bird species in feeding contexts, particularly when the exotic has social habits. We aimed to know if individuals of a social invasive species, the red-billed leiothrix Leiothrix lutea, are: more aggressive; the initiators of the first interaction; and dominant (i.e., won most interactions) over native opponents in a feeding context. We performed an experiment in a closed environment forcing dyadic interactions between an individual of a native species facing a leiothrix individual. We found that the leiothrix was the initiator in most experiments, being apparently dominant over natives. However, the invader was not more aggressive than natives. This can increase the risk of injury for natives because the leiothrix has a relatively larger body size. We discuss possible negative impacts of the leiothrix on native species.



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  • Aggressiveness and dominance parameters according to the species: aggressiveness (number of aggressive interactions measured in all experiments), initiator (percentage of experiments in which the species was the initiator individual, i.e., performed the first aggressive behaviour towards the opponent) and dominant individual (percentage of experiments in which the species was the dominant individual, i.e., made ⩾75% of the successful displacements within an experiment).

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  • Aggressiveness (sum of all aggressive interactions measured in the experiments, i.e., head forward displays and attacks) performed by each species: (a) leiothrix versus robin experiments (N=7); (b) leiothrix versus blackcap experiments (N=9). Bar colours refer to the success of the interaction in displacing the opponent: successful displacements (black) and unsuccessful displacements (grey).

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