Age and sex ratios in a high-density wild red-legged partridge population
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The dynamics of a wild red-legged partridge population were examined over a 14-year period in Spain to identify patterns in age and sex ratios in relation to weather parameters, and to assess the importance of these parameters in population dynamics and management. The results gave age ratios of 1.07 (but 2.13 in July counts), juvenile sex ratios of 1.01 and adult sex ratios of 1.47. Overall, 12% more females were hatched and female juvenile mortality was 7.3% higher than in males. Sex differential mortality explains the 19.2% deficit in adult females, which are more heavily predated than males during the breeding period. Accordingly, age ratios are dependent on sex ratios and both are density dependent. Over time, ratios and density changes appear to be influenced by weather and management. When the habitat is well conserved, partridge population dynamics can be explained by a causal chain: weather operates on net primary production, thereby affecting partridge reproduction and predation and, as a result, age and sex ratios in the October population. A reduction in the impact of predation (i.e. the effects of ground predators on eggs, chicks and breeding females) is the key factor to improve the conservation of partridge populations and associated biological processes.
Is part ofPlos One, 2016, vol. 11, núm. 8, e0159765
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