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Competition Between Eurasian Collared Doves and Mourning Doves


Philip W. Earhart


Undergraduate Student, Wildlife Biology, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN38505



Abstract:The Eurasian Collared dove has invaded the United States in the past 20 years and research needs to be done to determine what types of effects, if any, they are having on natural ecosystems as well as the severity of these effects.Native Mourning doves are already in a trend of population decline, and historically exotic species place unnecessary stress on native populations.


Introduction:The Eurasian Collared dove is a native to India and Sri Lanka.Introduced populations in Europe have exploded and have placed huge amounts of stress on naturally occurring populations there.The Mourning dove is one of the most popular and most important game birds in the U.S., especially the southeast.Collared dove populations entered the new world some time in the late 1970ís to early 1980ís after 50 of them escaped from a breeding facility in the Bahamas.They first appeared in southern Florida, but have been quick to spread throughout the southeast due to their high reproductive rates.


Objective/Hypothesis:The objective of this study is to determine whether or not competition between native Mourning doves and exotic Collared doves exists, and if so, to what degree.I hypothesize that the larger, Collared dove will physically out-compete the smaller Mourning dove for limited food resources.


Materials and Methods:Both species of doves used in this study were trapped in the Manchester, TN area and are housed in individual pens on the TN Tech campus.One bird of each species was selected, placed in the aviary and fasted for 12 hours prior to study.A tray containing 6 different kinds of seeds was then placed in the aviary and the birds were allowed to compete for the food.Observations were taken for the next 30 minutes and recorded on data sheets.Six different trials were performed during the study.



Results:The results are shown in the following graph:



Conclusions:We found that there were interactions between the species, but that these interactions seem to be on an individual-to-individual basis rather than a species-to-species basis as hypothesized.My hypothesis was thus disproved by the results of the study.More research is needed to determine whether or not other areas of interaction and competition exist between these species.


Acknowledgements:I would like to thank Trish Poling for all of her help with the necessary research prior to the study as well as with the study itself.I would like to thank T.W.R.A and TTU for funding.