Are the results of research on the partridge in Britain relevant to the conservation of this species in North America?

Author Potts, G.R.
Citation Potts, G.R. (1987). Are the results of research on the partridge in Britain relevant to the conservation of this species in North America?. In: Kimmel, R., Schulz, J.W. & Mitchell, G.J. (eds) Proceedings of The Perdix IV Gray Partridge Workshop: 31-37. Farmland Wildlife Populations and Research Group, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Madelia, U.S.A.


Most of the recent research on the grey partridge in Britain has concerned factors which determine the supplies of insect food for chicks. A review of this work has recently appeared elsewhere (Potts 1986). To summarise, it appears that prior to the use of pesticides, the biomass of chick food in cereals was about 40% of that in the feather-grass steppe where the species originated and chick mortality rates were low. By contrast there is often a shortage of preferred insects in modern cereal crops, often down to levels as little as 10% of the steppe value, caused by the adverse effects of herbicides and insecticides (and one fungicide: pyrazophos). Chick mortality rates are now significantly above their former level, moreover, this effect has been sufficient to result in a major reduction of partridge population density.

Partridge densities have declined wherever they have been monitored for a reasonable number of years but, fortunately, a package of proposals has recently been published which it is believed, would restore numbers. The research basis for the proposals was briefly reviewed at Perdix IV and given in detail in Potts (1986). The proposals themselves were examined in a practical framework suitable for farmers and gamekeepers and published, together with a manual of methods of raising the species in captivity (McCall & Potts 1986).

The purpose of this short paper is to examine some of the main management advice emanating from Britain, with a view to its possible relevance to the species in North America.

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