Patrick MUR

Thesis - 1994

University of Rennes I - France

  Contribution to the management of the palearctic populations of european quail in the european phase of its annual cycle

Methodological researches on the demographic kinetics and appreciation of fluctuations factors


Thanks to a network of hunting technicians set up from the year 1991 and covering 23 French départements from Pyrénées-Orientales to Somme in 1993, we tried to understand intra and inter-annual fluctuations of European Quail populations (Coturnix coturnix coturnix) from May to August during each breeding season, monitoring one hundred grounds where this species was regulary present.

In a first introductive part, we present an exhaustive review of specific actions of monitoring done before the begining of this work by French structures. Brutal decreases are revealing at the beginning of decade 70, through the evolution of bags. We learn that for a mortality reaching 80 % at the end of the first year, the european quail presents a practically complete turn-over every two years. The preservation and the survival of the species widely depend on youngs stock produce during breeding season.

We propose on a second part (Chap. II and III) the settling of a monitoring method for breeding populations. The counting of breeders is based on listening to crowing males. Simultaneously, the dayly variation of the vocal activity of unmated birds and the influence of the matching are studied in laboratory. The coefficient of species detection, very important to know in the field, is obtained in semi-natural conditions in aviary with or without recording calls of female for situations of celibacy, no complete matching and matching. The distribution of recording females calls is selective to unmated males and improves the detection result. Spontaneous countings and countings after recordings calls, by their joint application, allow to homogenize the representativeness of results between grounds and to know 69 % of the number of singers at dawn. The weekly densities of crowing males per 100 hectares found on strips samples give an image of the progress of the spring migration. They indicate periods of laying, dates of hatching and the quantity of youngs products during the breeding season. The counting period of unmated males can be reduced to May in lowlands and to June in uplands without losing its predictive value.

Finally in a third part (Chap. IV) we were interested in the young survival through nests and broods discover during dogs searches in July and August. We have obtained averages of 5,14 youngs per brood in lowlands ( n=58 ) and  3,97 in uplands ( n=98 ), during three years for broods between two and five weeks old. Variations between years are stronger in uplands : the mortality would be under the direct dependence of the rainfall abundance in spite of a rich and diversified trophic resources. We tested the quality of spontaneous fallows. An approach of the dietary and spatial exploitation of two parcels is given by the analysis of 21 crops contents of chicks quails. They were one week aged and each adult female leader was fitted with a necklace radio-transmitter.

KEYWORDS - European Quail - Coturnix coturnix coturnix - population - counting - crowing males - France - environment - breeding - young survival - rainfalls - fallows.



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European Quail - Patrick MUR - on 1994