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Polish Journal of Ecology 62(4): 751-759

Detailed knowledge of demographic parameters (such as age structure and reproduction rates) is crucial for guiding conservation and management decisions regarding wildlife populations. Such parameters of wild ring-necked pheasant populations in the current agricultural landscape remain very poorly described. We researched age structure and reproduction rates of predominantly wild populations of the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus L.) across the intensively managed agricultural landscape of the Czech Republic. The study area is influenced only marginally by hand-reared pheasants (i.e. as shown by comparison of the average number of released individuals in the study area: 0.3 male/yr/1km(2) and 0.9 female/yr/1km(2) and average number of released individuals and harvested in the study area: 8.6 male/yr/1km(2)) and there is a long-term huntable pheasant population. To determine the age of individuals, we used proximal primary feather shaft diameters of 1487 feather samples from males hunted between 2009 and 2011. Moreover, we evaluated the age structure of females as well as both sexes together based on the sex ratio and annual game census. We found a relatively high proportion of adults in the population in comparison with other studies. However, the number of adults decreased throughout the years: 2009 (male 44.7%; female 69.5%; male female 60.7%), 2010 (male 35.2%; female 61.3%; male female 51.5%), 2011 (male 29.8%; female 57.4%; male female 47.0%). The decrease of adults went hand in hand with increase of juveniles and reproduction rates of the study population: 2009 (male 124%; female 44%; male female 65%), 2010 (male 184%; female 63%; male female 94%), 2011 (male 236%; female 74%; male female 113%). Only males were hunted in the study area so we determined higher proportions of females in population for all years. This is the main reason why the reproduction rate of females was lower in percentage expression. Generally, our results showed lower productivity of pheasants in the Czech agricultural landscape in comparison with earlier published studies conducted in the US and UK. However, these studies were published many years ago and thus do not reflect the actual environmental conditions and changes which took place recently (i.e. agricultural intensification).

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Accession: 066293573

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DOI: 10.3161/104.062.0417

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