Does restocking with Japanese quail or hybrids affect native populations of common quail Coturnix coturnix?

Biological Conservation, 136 (4) : pages 628-635



Natural populations of the common quail Coturnix coturnix may hybridize in the wild with non-native individuals (Japanese quail Coturnix japonica or hybrids) as a result of restocking for hunting purposes. Several laboratory studies suggest that this could lead to a decline in the impulse to migrate in the common quail, and a drop in the frequency of phenotypes showing this tendency. This could lead to an increase in common quail populations in North Africa and a decrease in Europe. This paper provides new data on the proportion of hybrids in Catalonia (Northeast Spain) over 24 years (1983–2006) showing how restocking with Japanese quail or hybrids affects native populations of common quail. The first hybrids were detected in 1990 with an estimate of 4.65% of non-native individuals during the breeding season of wild common quail populations. No increase in non-native or hybrid numbers was detected during the study period, indicating that restocking poses no serious conservation problems at present. However, this may change in the near future, either with or without changes in the current scenario. A prudent policy with regard to restocking with non-native individuals is suggested. Moreover, further studies are needed to clarify the extent of this conservation problem.

MOTS CLES : Coturnix japonica - Hybridization - Restocking - Hunting - Management

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