Turnover of breeding bird communities on islands in an inundated lake

Xingfeng Si, Stuart L. Pimm, Gareth J. Russell, Ping Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Aim: MacArthur and Wilson's theory of island biogeography proposes that the rate at which species colonize an island depends on the island's isolation (distance effect), whereas the local extinction rate depends on its area (area effect). Alternative hypotheses recognize that area can affect the colonization rate (target effect) and that isolation can affect the extinction rate (rescue effect) and, moreover, that these relationships may dominate. We quantify these relationships and associated turnover rates and incidence using long-term counts of breeding bird communities on islands in an inundated lake. Location: Thousand Island Lake, China. Methods: We assessed the occupancy and behaviour of breeding birds on 37 islands from 2007 to 2012. We estimated the effects of area, isolation and other biogeographical parameters on the frequencies of colonization and extinction events using multivariate logistic regression. We then extended these results to derived properties such as species turnover rates and incidence. Results: Extinction rates decreased and colonization rates increased on larger islands. Isolation had no significant effect on colonization or extinction rates. Islands had high species turnover overall, and turnover rates followed the same pattern as extinction rates with different areas and isolations. Pool turnover, which controls for the number of species in the pool, was higher on large islands. Species richness also increased with area. Our study of bird communities supported area and target effects, but not distance and rescue effects. Main conclusions: Island area was a better predictor of colonization and extinction than isolation, probably because of the relatively small scale (c. 580km2) and homogeneous vegetation structure of our research system, and the strong dispersal ability of birds. We conclude that the differences between our observations and theoretical predictions, or results from other studies that measured colonization and extinction directly, are consistent with the particular biogeography of these islands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2283-2292
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


  • Breeding bird
  • Colonization
  • Connectivity
  • Extinction
  • Island biogeography
  • Land bridge
  • Model selection
  • Rescue effect
  • Target effect
  • Thousand Island Lake


Dive into the research topics of 'Turnover of breeding bird communities on islands in an inundated lake'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this