skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Carcasses of invasive species are predominantly utilized by invasive scavengers in an island ecosystem

Abstract

Invasive species have significantly affected ecosystems, particularly islands, and species invasions continue with increasing globalization. Largely unstudied, the influence of invasive species on island ecosystem functions, especially scavenging and decomposition, could be substantive. Quantifying carcass utilization by different scavengers and shifts in community dynamics in the presence of invasive animals is of particular interest for understanding impacts on nutrient recycling. Invasive species could benefit greatly from carcass resources within highly invaded island ecosystems, through increased invasion success and population growth, subsequently exacerbating their impacts on native species. Here, we quantified how experimentally placed invasive amphibian, reptile, small mammal, and bird carcasses were utilized by vertebrate and invertebrate scavengers on the Big Island of Hawai’i in three island habitats: a barren lava field, a vegetated lava field, and a rainforest. We used camera traps to record vertebrate scavengers removing carcasses and elapsed time until removal. We evaluated differences in cavenging between vertebrates and invertebrates and within the vertebrate community across different habitats and carcass types. Despite the small carcass sizes (<1 kg) used in this study, 55% of carcasses were removed by vertebrate scavengers, all invasive: mongoose, rodents, cats, pigs, and a common myna. Our data indicate that invasive vertebrate scavengersmore » in this island ecosystem are highly efficient at assimilating a range of carrion resources across a variety of habitats. Carcasses of invasive animals could contribute substantially to energy budgets of other invasive vertebrate species. Finally, this may be a critical component contributing to successful invasions especially on islands and subsequent impacts on ecosystem function.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5]
  1. Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens Georgia 30602 USA, Savannah River Ecology Lab, University of Georgia, Aiken South Carolina 29802 USA
  2. Savannah River Ecology Lab, University of Georgia, Aiken South Carolina 29802 USA, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens Georgia 30602 USA
  3. USDA APHIS, National Wildlife Research Center, Sandusky Ohio 44870 USA
  4. USDA APHIS, National Wildlife Research Center, Hilo Hawai'i 96720 USA
  5. Savannah River Ecology Lab, University of Georgia, Aiken South Carolina 29802 USA
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Georgia Research Foundation INC., Athens, GA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE; USDA
OSTI Identifier:
1329334
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1332009; OSTI ID: 1360812
Grant/Contract Number:  
FC09-07SR22506
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Ecosphere
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Ecosphere Journal Volume: 7 Journal Issue: 10; Journal ID: ISSN 2150-8925
Publisher:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; cane toads; cannibalism; carrion; ecosystem function; Hawai’i; invasive species; mongoose; scavenging.

Citation Formats

Abernethy, Erin F., Turner, Kelsey L., Beasley, James C., DeVault, Travis L., Pitt, William C., and Rhodes, Jr., Olin E. Carcasses of invasive species are predominantly utilized by invasive scavengers in an island ecosystem. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1496.
Abernethy, Erin F., Turner, Kelsey L., Beasley, James C., DeVault, Travis L., Pitt, William C., & Rhodes, Jr., Olin E. Carcasses of invasive species are predominantly utilized by invasive scavengers in an island ecosystem. United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1496.
Abernethy, Erin F., Turner, Kelsey L., Beasley, James C., DeVault, Travis L., Pitt, William C., and Rhodes, Jr., Olin E. Wed . "Carcasses of invasive species are predominantly utilized by invasive scavengers in an island ecosystem". United States. doi:10.1002/ecs2.1496.
@article{osti_1329334,
title = {Carcasses of invasive species are predominantly utilized by invasive scavengers in an island ecosystem},
author = {Abernethy, Erin F. and Turner, Kelsey L. and Beasley, James C. and DeVault, Travis L. and Pitt, William C. and Rhodes, Jr., Olin E.},
abstractNote = {Invasive species have significantly affected ecosystems, particularly islands, and species invasions continue with increasing globalization. Largely unstudied, the influence of invasive species on island ecosystem functions, especially scavenging and decomposition, could be substantive. Quantifying carcass utilization by different scavengers and shifts in community dynamics in the presence of invasive animals is of particular interest for understanding impacts on nutrient recycling. Invasive species could benefit greatly from carcass resources within highly invaded island ecosystems, through increased invasion success and population growth, subsequently exacerbating their impacts on native species. Here, we quantified how experimentally placed invasive amphibian, reptile, small mammal, and bird carcasses were utilized by vertebrate and invertebrate scavengers on the Big Island of Hawai’i in three island habitats: a barren lava field, a vegetated lava field, and a rainforest. We used camera traps to record vertebrate scavengers removing carcasses and elapsed time until removal. We evaluated differences in cavenging between vertebrates and invertebrates and within the vertebrate community across different habitats and carcass types. Despite the small carcass sizes (<1 kg) used in this study, 55% of carcasses were removed by vertebrate scavengers, all invasive: mongoose, rodents, cats, pigs, and a common myna. Our data indicate that invasive vertebrate scavengers in this island ecosystem are highly efficient at assimilating a range of carrion resources across a variety of habitats. Carcasses of invasive animals could contribute substantially to energy budgets of other invasive vertebrate species. Finally, this may be a critical component contributing to successful invasions especially on islands and subsequent impacts on ecosystem function.},
doi = {10.1002/ecs2.1496},
journal = {Ecosphere},
number = 10,
volume = 7,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {10}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1496

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 4 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Effect of Predators and Area on Invasion: An Experiment with Island Spiders
journal, March 1995


Geographic Distribution of Endangered Species in the United States
journal, January 1997


Scavengers and detritivores of kangaroo harvest offcuts in arid Australia
journal, January 2004

  • Read, J. L.; Wilson, D.
  • Wildlife Research, Vol. 31, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1071/WR02051

Scavenger community response to the removal of a dominant scavenger
journal, May 2011


Can behavioral and personality traits influence the success of unintentional species introductions?
journal, January 2012

  • Chapple, David G.; Simmonds, Sarah M.; Wong, Bob B. M.
  • Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Vol. 27, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2011.09.010

Rainfall and temperature effects on the decomposition rate of exposed neonatal remains
journal, January 2004


Prairie vegetation and soil nutrient responses to ungulate carcasses
journal, February 2000


Influence of salmon spawner densities on stream productivity in Southeast Alaska
journal, September 1999

  • Wipfli, Mark S.; Hudson, John P.; Chaloner, Dominic T.
  • Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 56, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1139/f99-087

Biology and Impacts of Pacific Island Invasive Species. 5. Eleutherodactylus coqui , the Coqui Frog (Anura: Leptodactylidae)
journal, July 2009

  • Beard, Karen H.; Price, Emily A.; Pitt, William C.
  • Pacific Science, Vol. 63, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.2984/049.063.0301

Arthropod Succession on Exposed Carrion in Three Contrasting Tropical Habitats on Hawaii Island, Hawaii
journal, May 1997


Ecological and socioeconomic impacts of invasive alien species in island ecosystems
journal, May 2007

  • Reaser, Jamie K.; Meyerson, Laura A.; Cronk, Quentin
  • Environmental Conservation, Vol. 34, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1017/S0376892907003815

Carrion decomposition and nutrient cycling in a semiarid shrub–steppe ecosystem
journal, November 2009

  • Parmenter, Robert R.; MacMahon, James A.
  • Ecological Monographs, Vol. 79, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1890/08-0972.1

Invasive mammals in Cuba: an overview
journal, January 2009


Abundance and Demography of the Hawaiian Hawk: Is Delisting Warranted?
journal, January 2003

  • Klavitter, John L.; Marzluff, John M.; Vekasy, Mark S.
  • The Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 67, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.2307/3803072

Carcass size shapes the structure and functioning of an African scavenging assemblage
journal, February 2015

  • Moleón, Marcos; Sánchez-Zapata, José A.; Sebastián-González, Esther
  • Oikos, Vol. 124, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1111/oik.02222

Scavenging: how carnivores and carrion structure communities
journal, March 2011


Effect of travel distance, home range, and bait on the management of small Indian mongooses, Herpestes auropunctatus
journal, January 2015

  • Pitt, William C.; Sugihara, Robert T.; Berentsen, Are R.
  • Biological Invasions, Vol. 17, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10530-014-0831-x

Multiple scavengers respond rapidly to pulsed carrion resources at the land–ocean interface
journal, April 2013


Functional replacement across species pools of vertebrate scavengers separated at a continental scale maintains an ecosystem function
journal, November 2015

  • Huijbers, Chantal M.; Schlacher, Thomas A.; McVeigh, Rosemary R.
  • Functional Ecology, Vol. 30, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12577

Urbanisation alters processing of marine carrion on sandy beaches
journal, November 2013


Sampling Flies or Sampling Flaws? Experimental Design and Inference Strength in Forensic Entomology
journal, January 2012

  • Michaud, J. -P.; Schoenly, Kenneth G.; Moreau, G.
  • Journal of Medical Entomology, Vol. 49, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1603/ME10229

Life History and Economic Status of the Mongoose in Hawaii
journal, August 1952

  • Baldwin, Paul H.; Schwartz, Charles W.; Schwartz, Elizabeth Reeder
  • Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 33, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.2307/1375771

Invasive carnivores alter ecological function and enhance complementarity in scavenger assemblages on ocean beaches
journal, October 2015

  • Brown, Marion B.; Schlacher, Thomas A.; Schoeman, David S.
  • Ecology, Vol. 96, Issue 10
  • DOI: 10.1890/15-0027.1

The Ecological Impact of Invasive Cane Toads ( Bufo Marinus ) in Australia
journal, September 2010

  • Shine, Richard
  • The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1086/655116

Pathogen transmission as a selective force against cannibalism
journal, May 1998


Modification of Ecosystems by Ungulates
journal, October 1996

  • Hobbs, N. Thompson
  • The Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 60, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.2307/3802368

Carrion cycling in food webs: comparisons among terrestrial and marine ecosystems
journal, April 2012


Factors influencing the acquisition of rodent carrion by vertebrate scavengers and decomposers
journal, March 2004

  • DeVault, Travis L.; Brisbin, Jr., I. Lehr; Rhodes, Jr., Olin E.
  • Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 82, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1139/z04-022

Commentary on Simberloff (2006): Meltdowns, snowballs and positive feedbacks
journal, August 2006


Invasive ants compete with and modify the trophic ecology of hermit crabs on tropical islands
journal, February 2009


Mesopredators dominate competition for carrion in an agricultural landscape
journal, May 2011

  • DeVault, Travis L.; Olson, Zachary H.; Beasley, James C.
  • Basic and Applied Ecology, Vol. 12, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2011.02.008

The decision to feed by a scavenger in relation to the risks of predation and starvation
journal, February 1994


A snake in paradise: Disturbance of plant reproduction following extirpation of bird flower-visitors on Guam
journal, August 2008

  • Mortensen, Hanne Skovgaard; Dupont, Yoko Luise; Olesen, Jens M.
  • Biological Conservation, Vol. 141, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2008.06.014

Factors affecting carcass use by a guild of scavengers in European temperate woodland
journal, December 2005

  • Selva, N.; Jędrzejewska, B.; Jędrzejewski, W.
  • Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 83, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1139/z05-158

Observations of Differential Decomposition on Sun Exposed v. Shaded Pig Carrion in Coastal Washington State
journal, July 1993

  • Shean, Blair S.; Messinger, Lynn; Papworth, Mark
  • Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol. 38, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1520/JFS13492J

From regional to global patterns in vertebrate scavenger communities subsidized by big game hunting
journal, April 2015

  • Mateo-Tomás, Patricia; Olea, Pedro P.; Moleón, Marcos
  • Diversity and Distributions, Vol. 21, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12330

Trophic facilitation by introduced top predators: grey wolf subsidies to scavengers in Yellowstone National Park
journal, November 2003


Marine carbon and nitrogen in southeastern Alaska stream food webs: evidence from artificial and natural streams
journal, August 2002

  • Chaloner, Dominic T.; Martin, Kristine M.; Wipfli, Mark S.
  • Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 59, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1139/f02-084

Does Weather or Site Characteristics Influence the Ability of Scavengers to Locate Food?: Scavenger Foraging
journal, December 2011


Insect succession and decomposition patterns on shaded and sunlit carrion in Saskatchewan in three different seasons
journal, August 2008


Wolves modulate soil nutrient heterogeneity and foliar nitrogen by configuring the distribution of ungulate carcasses
journal, November 2009

  • Bump, Joseph K.; Peterson, Rolf O.; Vucetich, John A.
  • Ecology, Vol. 90, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1890/09-0292.1

Contradiction in Conservation of Island Ecosystems: Plants, Introduced Herbivores and Avian Scavengers in the Canary Islands
journal, June 2006

  • Gangoso, Laura; Donázar, José A.; Scholz, Stephan
  • Biodiversity and Conservation, Vol. 15, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10531-004-7181-4