The Brown-throated Parakeet Aratinga pertinax is native to Panama, northern South America, and the islands off the northern coast of Venezuela. It is widely believed that the parakeet was introduced to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, from Curacao before the mid-19th century, although no records exist as to when and how this may have occurred. The parakeet was not recorded from Vieques or Culebra islands or mainland Puerto Rico before 1975. However, in that year A. pertinax underwent an apparent natural range expansion from St. Thomas into each of these sites. The 5 birds in the eastern Puerto Rico population made 5 breeding attempts and fledged 11 young since their discovery in April1975. That population grew to a maximum size of 10 birds in June 1979. However there was only 1 bird left by July 1980, and the population no longer existed at the beginning of what would have been the 1982 breeding season. The populations on Culebra and Vieques islands were apparently extirpated by 1976. Losses in the eastern Puerto Rico population were low during the first four years of colonization, when reproduction was adequate and the mortality was low. However, between 1978 and the time of population disappearance in 1982, the expected extirpation was 0.999. Habitat use, general behavior, breeding biology, competitors and predators of the colonizing population in eastern Puerto Rico are described. Biogeographic, evolutionary, and conservation implications of these observations are discussed.
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Natural range expansion and local extirpation of an exotic psittacine--an unsuccessful colonization attempt