Friday, April 20, 2007

Stanley Temple on Exotic Birds

Temple* (1992) proclaimed exotic birds in the Western Hemisphere to be “a growing problem with no easy solution.” Here are a few highlights from Temple’s paper (.pdf):
  • An estimated 97 species (75 imported from other countries, and 22 species translocated within the U.S.) have established self-sustaining populations in the U.S. outside their native ranges.
  • Imported and established exotics originate from Eurasia (47 percent), the neotropics (26 percent), Africa (22 percent), and other regions (4 percent).

  • Hawaii and Florida have the highest proportion of their breeding avifaunas composed of exotics (18 and 9 percent, respectively).

  • At least 61 percent of exotic species were introduced purposely and legally through the cooperative Federal-State Foreign Game Importations Program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1948-1970..

  • Some 38 percent of exotics are pet birds that accidentally escaped from captivity after having been imported or translocated legally.

  • About 56 percent of the exotic birds of the U.S. are judged to be primarily harmful, 5 percent to be primarily beneficial, and 39 percent to have mixed impacts that may be both harmful and beneficial depending on the situation.

  • Only a handful of exotic bird species have been well-studied in the U.S.

  • The American public is woefully naive about exotic birds, with many of them not even recognized as nonnative by most Americans, and a few (i.e. Mute Swan, Monk Parakeet) even having advocacy groups.

  • Unless the public can be convinced that exotics usually are undesirable, motivation to deal with exotic birds will remain low.
  • Citation: Temple, Stanley A. 1992. Exotic birds: a growing problem with no easy solution. Auk 109: 395-397.

    *Stanley A. Temple is Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation, Professor of Wildlife Ecology, and Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wisconsin.

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