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Proc Biol Sci. 2006 Dec 7;273(1604):2969-75.

Modelling population persistence on islands: mammal introductions in the New Zealand archipelago.

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  • 1Bio-Protection and Ecology Division, PO Box 84, Lincoln University, Lincoln 4647, Canterbury, New Zealand.


Islands are likely to differ in their susceptibility to colonization or invasion due to variation in factors that affect population persistence, including island area, climatic severity and habitat modification. We tested the importance of these factors in explaining the persistence of 164 introductions of six mammal species to 85 islands in the New Zealand archipelago using survival analysis and model selection techniques. As predicted by the theory of stochastic population growth, extinction risk was the greatest in the period immediately following introduction, declining rapidly to low probability by ca 25 years. This suggests that initially small populations were at greatest risk of extinction and that populations which survived for 25 years were likely to persist subsequently for much longer. Islands in the New Zealand archipelago become colder and windier with increasing latitude, and the probability of mammal populations persisting on islands declined steeply with increasing latitude. Hence, our results suggest that climatic suitability was an important determinant of the outcome of these invasions. The form of the relationship between latitude and persistence probability differed among species, emphasizing that the outcome of colonization attempts is species-environment specific.

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