Cumulative propagule pressure exerted by escaped pet parrots.
The global pet trade provides a pathway for introduced species to invade new environments. Most studies use trade data as an indirect proxy for propagule pressure exerted by the pet trade. Instead, we quantify the reported rate of loss of captive birds, assess factors that might influence this rate, simulate the survival and retrieval of birds and the overall cumulative propagule pressure exerted by pet birds on the environment. We used online listings of lost birds to estimate the propagule pressure that the pet trade exerts on the establishment of introduced bird species in Aotearoa-New Zealand. Listings from two popular websites were monitored daily for over 3.5 years, and information was recorded on the frequency, location, species composition and characteristics of the loss events. We investigated a range of factors that may influence the rate of loss events, such as season and human population size. We also developed a simulation approach to investigate the cumulative propagule pressure in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. A total of 1205 birds and at least 33 species were reported lost nationwide during our monitoring period, 92% of which were parrots. We found that the reported loss rate was higher in areas of higher human population size and median income, and lower in the winter months. Simulation results predict that in any given month in Auckland there is an average of at least 491 escaped birds, including 136 potential breeding pairs, and for seven species the chance that at least one locality has a male/female pair at large exceeds 80%. Synthesis and applications. Online listings of lost pets provide an excellent source of data from which to identify species with high propagule pressure in specific localities. We identified escaped parrot species as a high-risk invasion pathway, as they contribute to a high and consistent propagule pressure. A preventative approach, by banning the sale of these species, is the most appropriate pest management strategy for reducing the probability of establishment and potential impact.