Several invasive species have been shown to have a marked preference for urban habitats. The study of the variables responsible for the distribution of these species within urban habitats should allow to predict which environmental variables are indicative of preferred habitat, and to design landscape characteristics that make these areas less conducive to these species. The Monk parakeet Myiopsitta monachus is an invasive species in many American and European countries, and cities are one of its most usual habitats in invaded areas. The aim of this paper was to identify the main factors that determine distribution of the Monk parakeet in Barcelona, one of the cities in the world with the highest parakeet density. We defined our model based on eight preselected variables using a generalized linear model (GLZ) and evaluated the strength of support for each model using the AIC–based multi–model inference approach. We used parakeet density as a dependent variable, and an analysis restricted to occupied neighbourhoods provided a model with two key variables to explain the distribution of the species. Monk parakeets were more abundant in neighbourhoods with a high density of trees and a high percentage of people over 65 years. This is interpreted by the fact that parakeets use trees as food sources and support for the nests, and that older people often feed the species. Data support the ‘human–activity’ hypothesis to explain how invasive species can successfully establish in a non–native habitat, and stress how limiting food resources, especially food supplied by humans, may be the easiest way to exert some control on Monk parakeet populations.
Biological invasions, Urban habitat, Myiopsitta monachus, Density of trees, The ‘human–activity’ hypothesis, Older people
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