Adaptive patterns of anti-predator escape behavior in a globally introduced bird species

Tomas Grim, Roi Dor, Mark E. Hauber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduced species can represent quasi-experimental, anthropogenic case studies of both ecological and evolutionary principles. When these species are firmly established, competitive interactions between native and introduced species, including foraging, spacing, and breeding competition, may be among the ecological costs incurred from such species invasions. In turn, genetic and/or plasticity-driven changes in behavior and morphology could also take place in the invading species with increasing introduction lag (time since the onset of introduction). Critically, however, introduction lag is difficult to study in any single non-native population without long-term observations, and, instead, it requires geographically repeated measures of the focal response variables across invasive populations that were introduced at different times. Here we tested a priori predictors of predator-avoidance behaviors through the flight initiation distance (FID) assay of a widely distributed invasive bird species, the common myna Acridotheres tristis. The species was extensively and consistently sampled throughout most of its independently introduced ranges across all hemispheres. Critically, FID increased with greater introduction lag. We also detected additional functional patterns in that FID increased towards the rural range within a continuous metric of urban-rural gradient and also at shorter distances from the Equator. Any robust study of FID must also include proximate predictors as well and, accordingly, we found that FID increased with greater starting distance, with lower immediate human density, with flighted over walking escape responses, and at lower heights of a bird’s perch above ground but was unrelated to myna group size. Respectively, these factors are informative about the sensory cues triggering anti-predator behaviors in invasive mynas and imply an adaptive set of patterns of anti-predator responses in the introduced ranges of this species. Control measures of invasive common myna populations should take into account their extensive behavioral and cognitive flexibilities and adjust the planned management methods accordingly.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)143
Number of pages156
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2024


  • Anti-predator behavior
  • Indian mynahs
  • invasion latency
  • plasticity


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