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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.

Affiliations: 1: aResearch Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO), University of Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal ; 2: bDepartment of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, 3000-456 Coimbra, Portugal ; 3: cICAAM — Instituto de Ciências Agrárias e Ambientais Mediterrânicas, LabOr — Laboratory of Ornithology, Universidade de Évora, Núcleo da Mitra, Ap. 94, 7002-554 Évora, Portugal

*Corresponding author’s e-mail address:

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