Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) and starling (Sturnus vulgaris) syntopics in a Mediterranean urban park: evidence for competition in nest-site selection?
Belgian Journal of Zoology
Introduced species may compete with indigenous ones, e.g. for space resources, but evidence for syntopic cavity-nester birds is limited, at least for Mediterranean urban parks. In this work we report data on nest-site habitat use, availability and selection in two species: the introduced rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri) and the autochthonous starling (Sturnus vulgaris) nesting in ornamental tree (Cedrus libanotica) patches occurring in an historical urban park (Rome, central Italy). In
... central Italy). In particular, in our study we hypothesize that parakeets negatively affect starling nest-site selection. On 55 trees, we detected 73 available holes for nesting (38.4 % of which hosted nests: 9 of rose-ringed parakeet, 16 of starling, 3 of house sparrow). Birds utilized for nesting only a limited number ( 20%) of the ornamental trees (all larger than 80 cm in diameter). Compared to the total number of available trees, nesting trees had a significantly larger diameter at breast height. We observed a shift in the frequency distribution of nest hole height classes between starlings and parakeets suggesting competition for nesting sites between these two species. Starlings located their nests significantly lower than did rose-ringed parakeets, resulting in a higher specialization for starlings (as measured by the Feinsinger index) than for rose-ringed parakeets. The analysis of co-occurrence highlights a spatial segregation in nest holes. We argue that these differences in preferred nest height are indicative of parakeet dominance over starlings in cavity selection for nesting.