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Biotic resistance to an invasive spider conferred by generalist insectivorous birds on Hawai`i Island


A central problem for ecology is to understand why some biological invasions succeed while others fail. Species interactions frequently are cited anecdotally for establishment failure, but biotic resistance is not well supported by quantitative experimental studies in animal communities. In a 33-month experiment on Hawai’i Island, exclusion of native and alien forest birds resulted in a 25- to 80-fold increase in the density of a single non-indigenous spider species (Theridiidae: Achaearanea cf. riparia). Caged plots held large aggregations of juveniles and more large-bodied individuals, suggesting potential reproductive individuals are more susceptible to bird predation. Most examples of biotic resistance involve competition for limiting resources among sessile marine animals or terrestrial plants. The present results show that generalist predators can limit the success of introductions, even on oceanic islands, generally assumed less resistant to invasion.

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