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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Alectoris graeca is endemic to Europe, occurring only in the Alps, the Apennines, Sicily and the Balkans. It is suspected to be declining moderately rapidly, particularly in the Balkans which hold a substantial proportion of the species's population and range, based on a balanced assessment of the available evidence (e.g. Griffin 2011, A. Bernard-Laurent in litt. 2012). Within the Balkans, it breeds in Albania (strong decline is suspected since c.1995), Bosnia and Herzegovina (c.10,000 pairs and thought to have declined strongly in the last few decades [Sucic 2008]), Bulgaria (declining numbers and distribution since the 1960s [Iankov 2007]), Croatia (6,000-10,000 pairs [Tutis et al. in press] and considered to be declining with several local extinctions reported [Budinski et al. 2010]), Greece (apparently stable population in 2005-2011 [Bontzorlos et al. 2011] although the national Red List reports on-going declines and local extirpations in its range [Handrinos and Katsadorakis 2009]), Macedonia FYR (2,000–5,000 pairs [Velevski et al. in press], no current evidence for a decline), Montenegro (declined from 3,000–4,000 pairs [Puzovic et al. 2003] to c.1,300 pairs in 2010-2011 [Saveljic et al. 2011]), Serbia (declined by c. 20-30% in the 1990s to c. 1,000–1,500 pairs [Puzovic et al. 2009]). Elsewhere in the species's range, declines have been reported in Albania (common but declining [Z. Dedej and A. Postoli in litt. 2012]), Austria (R. Lentner in litt. 2012), Italy (a range reduction in the Apennine Mountains in the last 10-15 years and a decline of 11% in the last 20 years in Sicily [Lo Valvo et al. 1993, M. Lo Valvo in litt. 2012]) and Switzerland (long-term fluctuations followed by recent declines [V. Keller and N. Zbinden in litt. 2012]). Population monitoring in France from 1981 to 2011 has shown the population to be fluctuating (A. Bernard-Laurent in litt. 2012). A small population persists in Slovenia where current trend is unknown. The global population is estimated at c.80,000–150,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2004).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species utilises a variety of habitats and different altitudes, up to 3000m in the Alps and almost down to sea level in Sicily and Greece. Generally they prefer open, mountain habitats with grassy patches, low scrub or scattered conifers (Griffin 2011).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Bernard-Laurent, A., Lo Valvo, M., Postoli, A., Dedej, Z., Lentner, R., Zbinden, N., Keller, V., Nipkow, M., Sorace, A. & Vlachos, C.

Justification
This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened because despite its relatively large population and range, a recent assessment of the available evidence has found that the species is likely to be undergoing a moderately rapid population reduction owing to habitat degradation and over-hunting in some areas.
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Population

Population
The breeding population, which is confined to Europe, is estimated to number 40,000-78,000 breeding pairs, equating to 120,000-230,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
Studies in different parts of the species’s range (summarised in Griffin 2011) indicate that it is affected by a wide variety of threats, including habitat loss and degradation (Bernard-Laurent and de Franceschi 1994), abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral activities (Budinski et al. 2010, Rippa et al. 2011), reduced connectivity between metapopulations (Cattadori et al. 2003), disturbance, poaching, unsustainable hunting, extreme climatic events (Bernard-Laurent and Leonard 2000), hybridisation with released captive-bred Chukar A. chukar and Red-legged Partridge A. rufa (Barilani et al. 2007, Randi 2008), and the transfer of pathogens and parasites from these species (Manios et al. 2002, Rosà et al. 2011). Additional threats include the increase of tourism in mountain areas, predominantly in the French and Austrian Alps (A. Bernard-Laurent in litt. 2012).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation measures underway
EU Birds Directive Annex I. The species is classified as Threatened or Near Threatened in Red Data Books in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy and Switzerland.

Conservation measures proposed
Conduct surveys to determine population size and trends across the species's range. Improve knowledge on the effects of hunting on the species. Implement measures to reduce abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral activities. Safeguard the species's habitat. Improve legislation and enforcement to reduce unsustainable hunting and poaching. Investigate hybridisation with captive-bred A. chukar and A. rufa and pathogen and parasite transfer from these species.
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Wikipedia

Rock partridge

Rock Partridge

The rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) is a gamebird in the pheasant family Phasianidae of the order Galliformes, gallinaceous birds.

This partridge has its main (native) range in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe, and is closely related and very similar to its eastern equivalent, the Chukar Partridge, A. chukar.

This is a resident breeder in dry, open and often hilly country. It nests in a scantily lined ground scrape laying 5-21 eggs. The rock partridge takes a wide variety of seeds and some insect food.

The rock partridge is a rotund bird, with a light brown back, grey breast and buff belly. The face is white with a black gorget. It has rufous-streaked flanks and red legs. When disturbed, it prefers to run rather than fly, but if necessary it flies a short distance on rounded wings.

It is very similar to the chukar partridge, but is greyer on the back and has a white, not yellowish foreneck. The sharply defined gorget distinguishes this species from red-legged partridge. The song is a noisy ga-ga-ga-ga-chakera- chakera- chakera.

This species is declining in parts of its range due to habitat loss and over-hunting. While it generally manages to hold its own, the status of the Sicilian population may be more precarious and certainly deserves attention (Randi 2006).

Systematics[edit]

This species is closely related to the chukar, Przevalski's, and Philby's partridges, forming a superspecies. The Western Mediterranean red-legged and Barbary partridges with their spotted neck collar are slightly more distant relatives. Nonetheless, although this species' range does not naturally overlap with that of its relatives, they co-occur where they have been introduced as gamebirds, for example in North America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Russia, and in southeastern France where red partridges have been released. In these areas, hybrids between this species, the chukar, and the red partridge are usually found.(McGowan 1994, see also Randi 2006)

Three living subspecies are usually recognized (McGowan 1994), which differ marginally in coloration and somewhat more according to molecular studies (Randi 2006; see below for details):

  • A. g. graeca (Meisner, 1804) - eastern rock partridge
E Bosnia to Greece and Bulgaria, Apennines.
  • A. g. saxatilis (Bechstein, 1805) - central rock partridge
Southern half of the Alps to W Bosnia.
  • A. g. whitakeri Schiebel, 1934 - Sicilian rock partridge
Restricted to Sicily.

The proposed subspecies from the Apennines, A. g. orlandoi Priolo, 1984, is of doubtful validity. It is usually included in saxatilis, but apparently mostly derives from Albanian A. g. graeca. These probably crossed the Adriatic via a land-bridge during the last ice age, to become isolated only with the sea levels rising at the beginning of the Holocene c.12.000-10.000 years ago, with Alpine birds much less contributing to the Apennines population.(Randi 2006)

Apennine birds are not consistently recognizable by external morphology, and are only weakly differentiated with regards to mtDNA D-loop and hypervariable control region sequences and microsatellite genotyping. As they nonetheless consititute a discrete subpopulation evolving towards subspecies status, their population numbers could arguably deserve monitoring.(Randi 2006)

In addition, there was a paleosubspecies, A. g. martelensis, which is only known from fossils.

References[edit]

  • McGowan, Philip J. K. (1994): 11. Rock Partridge. In: del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Sargatal, Jordi (editors): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl: 485, plate 43. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-15-6
  • Randi, Ettore (2006): Evolutionary and conservation genetics of the rock partridge, Alectoris graeca. Acta Zoologica Sinica 52(Supplement): 370–374. PDF fulltext
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