Summary review and synthesis - Effects on habitats and wildlife of the release and management of pheasants and red-legged partridges on UK lowland shoots
This review examines 139 items of primary and other literature to provide an insight into current knowledge of the effects of pheasant and red-legged partridge releasing and associated management for shooting on habitats and wildlife in the UK. It summarizes key findings and uses them to define sub-topic sections which are classified as positive, neutral or negative. This forms the basis of a numerical synthesis of effects and some overall conclusions.
Fifty-four directly related studies were identified, which defined 25 sub-topics or effects. A mix of positive, neutral and negative ecological consequences of releasing are described, for which the corresponding number of sub-topics approximately balance each other. Positive effects are usually a consequence of gamebird management activities, most negative effects are caused by the released birds themselves. The different spatial scales at which effects are likely to operate are identified, for example effects on generalist predators or of gamecrops occur at the landscape scale, while many habitat effects have a local impact.
Some local negative effects have relatively straightforward management solutions for example, by identifying and avoiding especially sensitive sites when locating release pens. The synthesis identifies seven negative effects associated with the increasing scale of releasing. Several positive effects are linked to economic considerations and are more likely to have greater impact at larger shoots. Pheasants released into woodland have more direct local effects than partridge releases on farmland.
The framework of sub-sections could be used as the basis for a more complex synthesis or weighted analysis for a particular set of ecological priorities. The review findings should be interpreted as representing a median type of shoot in terms of size and adherence to good practice over recent decades. They increase the awareness of potential conflicts, highlighting the need for best practice and what factors to consider for mitigation