Indirect effects of an invasive exotic species on a long-distance migratory songbird

Kirk W. Stodola, Eric T. Linder, Robert J. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The loss of foundational tree species to non-native pests can have far reaching consequences for forest composition and function, yet little is known about the impacts on other ecosystem components such as wildlife. We had the opportunity to observe how the loss of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), due to the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), influenced the population ecology of the Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) over a 7 year period. We followed the process of adelgid infestation and subsequent hemlock loss, which allowed us to investigate the patterns and mechanisms of population change. We document a precipitous decline in breeding pairs at one site where hemlock was most abundant in the understory, but not at our other two sites. We observed no changes in reproductive output or apparent survival, yet territory size increased dramatically at the most affected site, suggesting that the decline was due to a lack of colonization by new breeders. Our results demonstrate how an invasive insect pest can indirectly influence wildlife species not believed to be vulnerable and in ways not typically investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1947-1959
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Black-throated Blue Warbler
  • Hemlock woolly adelgid
  • Immigration
  • Population decline
  • Population demography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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