The feeding ecology and survival of pheasant chicks on arable farmland.

Author Hill, D.A.
Citation Hill, D.A. (1985). The feeding ecology and survival of pheasant chicks on arable farmland. Journal of Applied Ecology, 22: 645-654.

Abstract

  1. Pheasant broods were radio-tracked for approximately 20 days after hatching and their diet determined from faecal samples collected from nocturnal roost sites during the first 12 days.
  2. Broods which moved over a large range suffered heavier mortality than those which remained within a relatively small area.
  3. Broods preferred to forage in weedy areas, rough grass and winter barley, which all had a high arthropod biomass. Broods selected against woodland.
  4. Carabid beetles and the larvae of sawfly and Lepidoptera were preferred food items. Hens ate similar arthropods to their chicks but in less quantity.
  5. Variation in arthropod densities in the home range of radio-tagged broods explained 75% of the variation in chick survival. Chick survival was highest in those broods which had ingested the highest biomass of insects.
  6. Carabid beetles, chrysomelid beetles and the larvae of sawfly and Lepidoptera, explained 67% of the between-year variation in chick survival rate. The effects of weather are difficult to explain because of the intercorrelations of weather with the densities of some arthropods.

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