Recruitment of grey and red-legged partridges (Perdix perdix and Alectoris rufa) in relation to population density and habitat.
The recruitment of first-year grey and red-legged partridges into subsequent breeding populations was investigated on 17 study areas in Britain.
The density of birds recruited per unit area increased with the density of birds available in their first autumn for potential recruitment in the following spring but decreased with adult density. The relationship between recruitment and adult density, while always negative, differed significantly between areas. These differences were correlated with variation in the amount of nesting habitat available to both species of partridge and with variation in nesting habitat quality. Recruitment of grey partridges was related to length of available nesting habitat, the amount of residual dead grass in the nesting cover, and earth bank height at the base of the nesting cover. Recruitment of red-legged partridges was also related to length of nesting habitat, together with the amount of nettle in the nesting cover.
It is suggested that the attractiveness of different areas to settling recruits is determined by the amount and quality of nesting habitat available.