Archived 2020 topic: Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) – request for information on population trends

Please note: This discussion topic is one of a set about species that are endemic or nearly endemic to the European Union (EU), and whose status in the EU therefore effectively determines their global status. To ensure consistency between the 2020 global and EU Red List assessments of these species, this set of topics is being fast-tracked through BirdLife’s Globally Threatened Bird Forums to inform decisions on the EU (and global) status of relevant species, which must be finalised and communicated to the European Commission by mid-April 2020. Topics on other species will be posted on the Forums shortly, for discussion later in the spring, as per usual. The results of the 2020 global Red List update for birds will be published by IUCN and BirdLife in early December.

Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca is endemic to southern Europe, occurring only in the Alps, the Apennines, Sicily and the Balkans. Despite its relatively large population and range size, it is currently listed as globally Near Threatened, because when last assessed the available evidence suggested that it was likely to be undergoing a moderately rapid population reduction, approaching 30% over three generations, owing to habitat degradation and over-hunting in some areas.

Despite being restricted to a few countries in southern Europe, this species has a relatively large extent of occurrence (>1,400,000 km2; BirdLife International 2015), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criteria (B and D2). The population size is also relatively large (c. 83,000–147,000 mature individuals; BirdLife International 2015), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criteria (C and D1). Therefore, the only relevant criterion is A, which relates to reductions in population size. When last assessed, the population was thought likely to be declining relatively rapidly, at a rate approaching the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under Criterion A (>30% over three generations, i.e. c. 12 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife at that time to be 3.9 years). The species was therefore classified as Near Threatened under A2, A3 and A4 (past, future and present declines).

That assessment was informed by a discussion on this Forum in 2012. Since that time, two rounds of 6-yearly reporting have taken place under Article 12 of the European Union (EU) Birds Directive, requiring all EU Member States to report to the European Commission (EC) their latest information on the sizes and trends of the populations and ranges of all naturally occurring wild bird species. In 2013, the data reported were unsurprisingly very similar to those mobilised for the 2012 Forum discussion and Red List assessment, and supported the species’s population status being assessed as Near Threatened at European level (BirdLife International 2015). At the same time, but at EU level, it was assessed as Vulnerable, as the reported data indicated a slightly more rapid rate of decline within the EU than outside – especially in Italy and Greece, which at that time were estimated to hold >85% of the total EU population, with declines exceeding 30% (BirdLife International 2015).

Since then, Croatia has joined the EU, reporting its first data to the EC in 2019. Croatia holds around one fifth of the current EU population of A. graeca, with around one third in each of Italy and Greece. Overall, these three Member States hold almost 90% of the total EU population, so its trend in these countries largely determines the overall EU trend, and thus its Red List status. Under an EC contract to evaluate the EU population status of each species, BirdLife has attempted to analyse the data reported in 2019. Unfortunately, all three core countries reported the species’s short-term population trend (c. 2007–2018) as ‘unknown’. Several other EU Member States did report short-term trends: France (4%) fluctuating; Bulgaria (4%) small decrease; Austria (3%) stable; Slovenia (1%) unknown; Germany (<1%) small increase. This mixed picture, combined with the ‘unknown’ trends of most of the population, precludes a meaningful calculation of the species’s current overall trend.

Italy and Greece did both report long-term declines (since the 1980s/1990s), but in order to apply Red List Criterion A (especially A2 and A4), we need to know current (recent) trends. In this species’s case, we need to know the trend over the last 10 years, following the recent publication of an improved estimate of its generation length at 2.8 years (Bird et al. 2020), which supersedes the value used previously.

As the EU holds around two-thirds of the global breeding population and range, the species’s EU status effectively determines its global status. Therefore, information is urgently sought about the population trend of this species since c. 2010 across its global range – especially in Italy, Greece and Croatia, but also elsewhere (e.g. Western Balkans). If there is no evidence or reason to suspect that the species is declining overall at a rate approaching 30% over 10 years, then it will not be possible to sustain its classification as Near Threatened in the 2020 Red List. If no data from monitoring surveys are available, then it may be possible to infer the trend using information about relevant threats, including how they have affected the species in the past and may do so in future, provided that that these are documented and can reasonably be supported (IUCN 2012).

Relevant comments and information on this fast-track topic are welcome by 8 April 2020, please.

Please note that this forum topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, but rather a discussion of the species’s Red List status. Therefore, please ensure your comments are relevant to the species’s Red List status and the information requested. By submitting a comment, you confirm that you agree to the BirdLife Forums’ Comment Policy.

References

Bird, J.P., Martin, R., Akçakaya, H.R., Gilroy, J., Burfield, I.J., Garnett, S., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Şekercioğlu, Ç.H. & Butchart, S.H. (2020). Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13486

BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds: Rock Partridge Alectoris graeca. http://datazone.birdlife.org/userfiles/file/Species/erlob/summarypdfs/22678684_alectoris_graeca.pdf

IUCN (2012) IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1. Second edition. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN. iv + 32pp.

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24 Responses to Archived 2020 topic: Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) – request for information on population trends

  1. Borut Rubinić says:

    I would like to provide a short overview of the situation with species in Montenegro.
    Previous estimate of the population in Montenegro (1.000 – 1.300 pairs, Saveljić et al. 2011) was based on best expert opinion and non-systematic opportunistic research or random observations on local level. In the period of 2017-19 more extensive research of selected Annex I species of Birds Directive was carried out in the framework of the EU funded project: “Establishment of Natura 2000, Montenegro”. This period also coincided with the officially-introduced 3-year hunting ban of this species, induced by the conservation community. Rock Partridge was due to its population significance in the country vs global population seen and chosen as one of the focus species for field research within the EU project. As a result a relatively solid and focused field research was carried out – 433 survey points using playback point-transect methodology dispersed over many parts of the country, yielding 288 positive data and allowing some preliminary population assessment based on habitat suitability, local densities and extrapolation to wider areas. In addition a relatively extensive communication with the hunting community (involving communication with all the local hunting areas in the country) was organized and the data we collected was compared with the claimed hunting data. As a result a new population estimate was produced. Details about the process, numbers and distribution can be found in Rubinić et. al 2019
    The new findings are suggesting few things:
    – Previous population estimate for the species in Montenegro was probably an underestimate
    – New population estimate (3.500 to 5.500 breeding pairs or 10.500 to 16.000 individuals) for Montenegro suggests higher importance of the country for the species on global level
    – Although the population seems to be higher than previously thought, and breeding densities locally among highest within species distribution range, we don’t know enough about the species population trend on either short- or long-term level
    – Hunting pressure on resident Rock Partridge population is probably among heaviest and most widespread among any bird/game species in the country (except for the Common Quail). Apart from the legal hunting pressure, there is also quite widespread poaching of this species that can in combination with the weak enforcement of the law, lead to significant population declines on local and country levels. Hunting/poaching pressure is not easy to monitor as majority of areas where Rock Partridges are present are rocky and remote, and thus hard to access. Economic interest and thus pressure is heavy as the hunting permits are sold also to foreign hunters – there is evidence suggesting that income for local hunting associations from selling permits/bringing foreign hunters is substantial. Control on other hand is poor and the reporting on actual hunting bags highly questionable.
    – Additional threat might be land abandonment due to depopulation of rural areas, especially the reduction of livestock and grazing, leading to the re-forestation of open areas
    As a summary I suggest correction of the population estimate, based on the new findings (Rubinić et al. 2019). In terms of threats and the 10-year population trend for Montenegro I would unfortunately need to suggest the “Unknown” category as the comparison between the previous and current trends don’t allow critical assessment. Hopefully the future 10-year period will allow us to monitor species population in more relevant way to be able to assess the trend more accurately.
    All the information mentioned in this text is based on the book: Rubinić, B., Sackl, P. & Gramatikov, M. (2019): Conserving wild birds in Montenegro. A first inventory of potential Special Protection Areas. Podgorica, Montenegro. 328 pp. and additional information and clarification can be found in this publication. Complete text is freely available on the Researchgate.net*.

    Best regards,
    Borut Rubinić, Senior bird expert

    *https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332963986_Rubinic_B_Sackl_P_Gramatikov_M_2019_CONSERVING_WILD_BIRDS_IN_MONTENEGRO_-_A_first_inventory_of_potential_Special_Protection_Areas?_sg=tgJQd3bGvUtYRK-P3hL5WeChc_8dvNTmmfF1VXJkavhR-cpSfU0ARmCv99b9ZbAbVWr0ztBR8LBqSodLhjOCW27ic9E1dBZYw-jLhmiN.llpPlVjgqBx9kisVXEpuDVybPfLDcisi82ipOL5fJgaNtcLbbu13GaEYm62_KbTgOL7OmQ_iRPzSJmYQ-Jb_YA

  2. It is known that Italy plays a key role in the conservation of Alectoris graeca, since the three subspecies live on the national territory: Alectoris graeca graeca, Alectoris graeca saxatilis and Alectoris graeca whitakeri – the last one is endemic. In Italy, the Rock partridge has already been classified as “Vulnerable” (Peronace et al., 2012). Because of that – and in order to coordinate the conservation strategies that can be more effective into different Italian regions – Italy provided itself with a national action Plan (Trocchi er al., 2016). This Plan provides the attendance of the Regions in order to include the planned actions in the management tools (plans of Natura 2000 sites’ management, Prioritized Action Framework, plans of rural development, “hunting plans”, et cetera). Currently, the Rock partridge hunting is forbidden in nearly all the Apennines regions (Marche, Lazio, Campania and Umbria, Basilicata, Calabria), while the species can be hunted in Abruzzo through an extremely limited withdrawal plan (15-30 specimens). Hunting on Italian Alps is anyway narrow: 844 specimens in 2014. In Sicily, hunting has been forbidden since 2005. All over the territories where hunting is allowed, the withdrawals are ruled by annual plans based on censuses during Spring and at the end of Summer. Moreover, there are restrictions on the length of the hunting season, as well as on the number of hunters who are allowed to hunt this species. As it happens for many species, monitoring and habitat conservation/restoration is done by hunting community.

    Michele Sorrenti & Valter Trocchi
    Ufficio Studi e Ricerche Faunistiche e Agro Ambientali
    Federazione Italiana della Caccia

  3. Peter Knaus says:

    The following information is part of the “Swiss Breeding Bird Atlas 2013–2016” (Knaus et al. 2018), the full version is available as PDF: https://www.vogelwarte.ch/en/projects/publications&publicationId=1772. “In Switzerland, the Rock Partridge mainly occurs in the Alps of Valais, Ticino and Grisons as well as in the western Pre-Alps, mostly between 1700 and 2500 m. In the central Valais in particular, calling males are also regularly found between 600 and 1000 m. In some atlas squares occupied in 1993–1996, mainly in parts of Grisons and Valais, the Rock Partridge could not be confirmed. In contrast, small range gains were charted on the northern slopes of the Alps, and a calling male was again recorded in the Alpstein massif in 2017. Climatic variations have always caused marked fluctuations in population size. The lowest levels since 1990 were reached in 2002 and 2011, whereas numbers peaked in 1993 and to a lesser extent in 2006 and 2016. Marked declines since 1993–1996 have been noted in several parts of the Alps. These were partially offset by gains in the western part of the northern Alps. Switzerland supports more than 6 % of the global population and therefore has an important responsibility in the conservation of this species.”
    In the new “Red List of threatened breeding birds of Switzerland” (to be published in 2020, Knaus et al. in prep.) the species will be listed as VU (in 2010 it was NT). The reasons for this are the relatively small size of the breeding area as well as the fluctuating and long-term declining population. Threats to the Rock Partridge include habitat loss in cultivated Alpine landscapes either through shrub encroachment or intensified use, which exacerbates the fragmentation of remaining populations.

  4. Simon Dowell says:

    Dear Colleagues,

    I appreciate the comments that have been provided on this species and read with great interest the additional information supplied. It would seem likely that this species is experiencing the sort of levels of decline being experienced by other partridge species in the region (Donald et al. 2001; Gee et al. 2018), but unfortunately there would seem to be a lack of direct evidence to bear this out as yet. Unlike Alectoris rufa, A. graeca is not so strongly associated with agricultural areas and so may have fared better during the recent period of agricultural intensification. This would seem to be a topic requiring further research, however.

    As it stands at the moment and from the data presented, it would appear that there is insufficient data to warrant uplisting the red list status of this species to Vulnerable, though I would caution against down listing it from Near Threatened unless there is evidence of a reduced decline or an increase.

    Cited references:

    Donald, P.F., Green, R.E. & Heath, M.F. (2001) Agricultural intensification and the collapse of Europe’s farmland bird populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 268, 25–29.

    Gée, A., Sarasa, M., & Pays, O. (2018). Long–term variation of demographic parameters in four small game species in Europe: Opportunities and limits to test for a global pattern. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 41(1), 33–60. https://doi.org/10.32800/abc.2018.41.0033

    Simon Dowell, Co-Chair, IUCN SSC Galliformes Specialist Group

  5. Claudio Celada says:

    Sending comment also on behalf of Marco Gustin.

    No new data compared to the previous evaluation. National estimate is 16.000-24.000. Trend is negative for both alpine and apennine populations.
    In Trento Province -40-50% in the last 40-50 years (statement dated 1998).
    In Abruzzo frequency of occurrence in transects – 63% in 16 years (Bernoni 2007)
    Many local extinctions in Abruzzo mountains. Same in Marche and Umbria (Giacchino 1999).
    We estimate that decrease in Italy is at least 30% in the last 10 years (thus the species will be classified as vulnerable in the coming Italian Red list)

    It seems to us that the situation is not any better in Greece and considering the importance of this two countries (65% of global population more or less) it seems unrealistic to downlist the species from Vulnerable to Near threatened.

  6. The data from the second European Breeding Bird Atlas (EBBA2) due to be published at the end of 2020 provide some background information at the European scale although information on change covers a period of around 30 years and no short-term trends in distribution or population size are available.
    The change map shows a decline in distribution at a resolution of 50×50 km in particular in Italy but also at the edges of the distribution in the eastern Alps. Reasons for the decline summarised by the author of the species text, Ariane Bernard-Laurent, include in particular the abandonment of traditional agro-pastoral practices, which has led to large areas of grassland turning into scrub and ultimately into forest. This habitat loss is likely to continue and may affect populations in the Balkans, where available data for the two atlas periods were insufficient to document changes in distribution reliably.

    Based on the information from EBBA2 and comments made by other contributors to the forum downlisting the species seems unjustified.

    Verena Keller
    Project manager European Breeding Bird Atlas 2

  7. Reinhard Lentner says:

    Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) is a dispersed species in Austria, concentrated in the central Alps esp. Tyrol. Population estimates 700 – 1200 pairs, current analyses in Tyrol could lead to slightly higher numbers. Population seems to be stable, based on comparison between periods 2007-2012 and 2013-2018. Main threats are decreasing or abandonment of traditional mountain agricultural practices as well as increasing disturbance caused by touristic activities and projects

  8. Alexandros Gassios says:

    The Greek population of Alectoris Graeca, was estimated stable at 7.000 – 13.000 pairs for a long period, from 2001 (as far as I know) up to now (Handrinos 1997, Bridlife 2004, Handrinos 2009, Birdlife 2015).

    Bontzorlos et al, 2012 estimate the Greek population of A. graeca at approximately 121,000 pairs (95% CI: 109,338 to 133,979).
    On that study one can read “The rock partridge population in Greece has been estimated at between 7,000 and 13,000 breeding pairs by Handrinos & Akriotis (1997) and Handrinos & Papoulia (2004), with a claim of being even lower (Handrinos & Katsadorakis, 2009). These same authors also consider the species to be extremely rare and definitely declining and disappearing from most parts of Greece. The authors state, however, that these estimations are not based on specific scientific data on rock partridge populations (Handrinos & Katsadorakis, 2009) These estimations were based on an older publication of Papaevangelou et al. (2001) in which rock partridge population in Greece was estimated at between 7,000 and 13,000 pairs, without any clear indication of the methodological approach used to determine these numbers, or any reference concerning the mathematical procedure used to calculate the total number of breeding pairs at a national level”
    (http://abc.museucienciesjournals.cat/volume-35-2-2012-abc/rock-partridge-alectoris-graeca-graeca-population-density-and-trends-in-central-greece-2/?lang=en)

    At the final report of “METHODOLOGY FOR BIRD SPECIES RECOVERY PLANNING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION” Prepared by: BirdLife International Sub-contractor: FACE March 2012, the Greek A. graeca population is estimated at 113,000 pairs (min. 78,000 – max. 147,500), (pages 198,199, 203, 206, 209)These results were based on Bontzorlos et al, 2012.
    (https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/wildbirds/action_plans/docs/final_report.pdf)

    Today, the Greek Government’s official submission to the EC under Article 12 of the Birds Directive for the period 2013 to 2018 is available online, where one can see what data they have provided on A. graeca and other species:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envxz8njg/GR_birds_reports_20191031-152940.xml&conv=612&source=remote#A878_B

    There one can read that the A. graeca population size (2013-2018) is 7.000 – 13.000 pairs (index card 2), when the harvest is estimated at 68.800 – 126.700 individuals (index card 10). This is something that cannot happen. Hunting harvest cannot be bigger than a population of a species.

    Futhermore, the 2007-2013 national report includes more recent data as opposed to the 2013-2018 national report.

    If the Greek population size of A. graeca is really 7.000 – 13.000 pairs, there cannot be any “decline” status on the population trend, by the time that this population size is stable for at least 20 years. In that case, the harvest numbers should be corrected.

    If the Greek population size is 113.000 pairs (final report of “METHODOLOGY FOR BIRD SPECIES RECOVERY PLANNING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION”, Birdlife 2012 and 2007-2013 Greek national report) instead of 7.000 – 13.000 pairs, then the old data should be characterized as poor, and for sure, there cannot be any “decline” status on population trends.

    By the time that Greece holds one of the largest A. graeca populations, I would suggest that the issues mentioned above should be solved, before deciding the red list category on which the species is going to be listed.

  9. sotirios says:

    According to the report of the EU entitled “METHODOLOGY FOR BIRD SPECIES RECOVERY PLANNING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION” (link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/wildbirds/action_plans/docs/final_report.pdf ) it is mentioned on page 203 that the population of the Rock Partridge (Alectoris
    graeca) in 1994 was 7000-13000 pairs, in 2004 7000-13000 pairs and in the period 2005-2010 78000-1475000 pairs.
    The 2007-2013 national report includes more recent data as opposed to the 2013-2018 national report.
    More specifically, in the 2007-2013 national report the population of the species for the 2007-2013 period is 109338-133980 pairs based on the study by Bontzorlos, Vasileios & Vlachos, Christos & Evaggelos, Chatzinikos & Dedousopoulou, E. & Kiousis, D.. (2011).
    In the 2013-2018 national report the population of the species is 7000-13000 pairs for the 2013-2018 period based on the opinion of an expert with very limited data and in particular on the “RED BOOK OF ENDANGERED ANIMALS” that uses Handrinos’ book (Handrinos,G., & Akriotis, T., (1997) The birds of Greece. C. Helm, A & C Black, London.) that is republished by Birdlife International in 2004.

    Furthermore, questions are raised as to how it can be possible for the following numbers to be hunted (tab 10. Information related to Annex II species (Art.7) according to the data submitted in the 2013-2018 national report when the population is only 7000-13000 pairs.

    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envxz8njg/GR_birds_reports_20191031-152940.xml&conv=612&source=remote#

    • Cy Griffin says:

      In support of the above comment on the Article 12 reports for Greece for the period 2013-2018. The population estimate of 7,000 to 13,000 pairs (Handrinos 2009), is based on “expert opinion with very limited data”. However the same Article 12 report also provides a link to additional information, citing the paper; http://abc.museucienciesjournals.cat/files/ABC_35-2_pp_371-380.pdf (Bontzorlos et al. 2012), which used line transect surveys for Rock partridge over a 7 year study period. The estimate in this study should be considered in the current Red list assessment.

  10. Christos Kalaitzis says:

    Τhe 2007-2013 national report includes more recent data as opposed to the 2013-2018 national report. You can find the aforementioned data of the 2013-2018 period in the following link:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envxz8njg/GR_birds_reports_20191031-152940.xml&conv=612&source=remote#
    More specifically, in the 2007-2013 national report the population of the species for the 2007-2013 period is 109338-133980 pairs based on the study by Bontzorlos, Vasileios & Vlachos, Christos & Evaggelos, Chatzinikos & Dedousopoulou, E. & Kiousis, D.. (2011). http://abc.museucienciesjournals.cat/volume-35-2-2012-abc/rock-partridge-alectoris-graeca-graeca-population-density-and-trends-in-central-greece-2/?lang=en
    Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) population density and trends in central Greece. You can find the 2007-2013 report in the following link:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envv5hdfq/GR_birds_reports-16722-11399.xml&conv=343&source=remote#A465_B

    On the contrary, in the 2013-2018 national report the population of the species is 7000-13000 pairs (attached 4) for the 2013-2018 period based on the opinion of an expert with very limited data and in particular on the “RED BOOK OF ENDANGERED ANIMALS” that uses Handrinos’ book (Handrinos,G., & Akriotis, T., (1997) The birds of Greece. C. Helm, A & C Black, London.) that is republished by Birdlife International in 2004.

    Furthermore, questions are raised as to how it can be possible for the following numbers to be hunted (see table below) according to the data submitted in the 2013-2018 national report when the population is only 7000-13000 pairs.

    10. Information related to Annex II species (Art.7)

    10.2 Hunting bag a) Unit i – number of individuals
    b) Statistics/quantity taken Season/year 1 Season/year 2 Season/year 3 Season/year 4 Season/year 5 Season/year 6
    Min. (raw, ie. not rounded) 99900 103800 111200 70400 76500 68800
    Max. (raw, ie. not rounded) 115600 118300 126700 80600 89000 80800
    Unknown No No No No No No
    10.3 Hunting bag Method used Complete Survey – Complete survey or a statistically robust estimate
    10.4 Additional Information(Optional) 1) ARTEMIS Project 1995-2018. Recording and
    monitoring game species populations in Greece through harvest indices.

    Finally, according to the report of the EU entitled “METHODOLOGY FOR BIRD SPECIES RECOVERY PLANNING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION” (attached 5, link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/wildbirds/action_plans/docs/final_report.pdf ) it is mentioned on page 203 that the population of the Rock Partridge (Alectoris
    graeca) in 1994 was 7000-13000 pairs, in 2004 7000-13000 pairs and in the period 2005-2010 78000-1475000 pairs.

  11. Francesco Riga says:

    Dear All,
    as highlighted in previous comments, in Italy there is no updated data on status Rock partridge population on the whole national territory. However, informations on the distribution and hunting management of the partridge in the Italian Alps is provided by Artuso (2017, 2019). In the Alpine hunting district data collected in 2015 and 2016, in sample area of 16 out of 20 Provincial Administration (PA), show a 10y and 50y negative trend of birds number; furthermore there has been a decrease also in the area occupied by the species: 10y in 5 PA and 50y in 8 PA. However the Author doesn’t report quantitative data on these trends. No complete data are available for Alpine protected areas.
    About the hunting bag in the period 2006-2016, in the Alpine district the hunted birds have undergone a sharp decrease (50%) from 2006-08 (n. tot. 3,550) period to 2009-11 (n. tot. 1,784) and 2012-14 (n. tot 1,655) ones. Only in 2015 (hunted birds = 634) and 2016 (n. 615 ) data highlights a slight increase compared to 2014 hunting bag (n. 409). Because rock partridge hunting is based on population density estimates, hunting bags are a good indicator of the general trend of the populations (Artuso 2017, 2019).
    In the Apennines, the rock partridge is hunted only in Abruzzi and Marche, in the other region the hunting it is not allowed, due to low population density. In Abruzzi the hunting plan in 2015-19 is very variable, ranging from 23 to 63 birds; in the Marche Region, hunting plan is very small, less of 5 animals (ISPRA, unpublished data). Also in the Apennine, no updated data on population status are available for the protected areas. In Sicily the species is protected.
    In conclusion, even in the absence of national exhaustive data, it is believed that the populations of Rock partridge are decreasing, expecially in the Alps, where the most important populations live.

    References

    Artuso I., 2017 – Tipica alpina. Dieci anni di indagine UNCZA (2006-2015) su galliformi alpini e lepre bianca. In “Caccia alpina” n.35: 26-31. (In Italian). https://admin.101sport.net/upload/www.uncza.eu/Tipica.pdf

    Artuso I., 2019 – Tipica alpina. Undici anni di indagine UNCZA (2006-2016) su galliformi alpini e lepre bianca. In “Ungulati e Tipica alpina. Presenza, gestione e ricerca sulle Alpi” pp: 7-32. (In Italian)

    Francesco Riga
    Italian Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA)

  12. DIMITRIOS NIKOLAOU says:

    In the 2007-2013 national report the population of the species A. graeca population in Greece, was 109338-133980 pairs based on the study byBontzorlos, Vasileios et.al. (2011).

    http://abc.museucienciesjournals.cat/volume-35-2-2012-abc/rock-partridge-alectoris-graeca-graeca-population-density-and-trends-in-central-greece-2/?lang=en
    Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) population density and trends in central Greece.

    You can find the 2007-2013 report in the following link:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envv5hdfq/GR_birds_reports-16722-11399.xml&conv=343&source=remote#A465_B

    On the contrary, in the 2013-2018 national report the population of the species is 7000-13000 pairs, based on the opinion of an expert who has access in very limited data and in particular on the “RED BOOK OF ENDANGERED ANIMALS” that uses Handrinos’ book (Handrinos,G., &Akriotis, T., (1997) The birds of Greece. C. Helm, A & C Black, London.) that is republished by Birdlife International in 2004.

    Furthermore, questions are raised as to how it can be possible for the following numbers to be hunted according to the data submitted in the 2013-2018 national report when the population is only 7000-13000 pairs.

    In my opinion, not only I do not see any decline of the population, but instead there is a stability and in many cases a significant raise at the above mentioned population, according to data from the final report of “METHODOLOGY FOR BIRD SPECIES RECOVERY PLANNING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION”, Birdlife 2012 and 2007-2013 Greek national report

    According to the above, the next step that we have to follow in order to take some decisions, is to update our databases with new population registers. This will definitely lead us in more reasonable results and actions.

    In any case, I see no reason at all, that A. graeca should be listed in the Red book of threatened species, as we have conflicting data.
    A reconsideration would be wise at the moment.

  13. A correction to our previous post about harvest:

    The value of 844 specimens shot in Italian Alps cited before is a mean from year 2006 to 2012 (Artuso, 2014), while from 2006 to 2016 the mean is 749 birds (Artuso, 2019).
    Thanks.

    Michele Sorrenti & Valter Trocchi
    Ufficio Studi e Ricerche Faunistiche e Agro Ambientali
    Federazione Italiana della Caccia

  14. ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ ΣΩΚΟΣ says:

    There are two studies
    1) 109338-133980 pairs
    by Bontzorlos, Vasileios & Vlachos, Christos & Evaggelos, Chatzinikos & Dedousopoulou, E. & Kiousis, D.. (2011). http://abc.museucienciesjournals.cat/volume-35-2-2012-abc/rock-partridge-alectoris-graeca-graeca-population-density-and-trends-in-central-greece-2/?lang=en

    2) Breeding population density 7birds/km2 in Epirus
    by Tasoulas E. 2011 Estimating abundance and productivity of rock partridge in Epirus, using Distance sampling software. http://www.wfdt.teilar.gr/15_th_Panhellenic_Forestry_CONFERENCE/Presentations/Tasoulas.pdf

    Dr Christos Sokos
    Department of Wildlife & Hunting Management, Hellenic Ministry of Environment

  15. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    The following comment is posted on behalf of Jula Selmani (National Agency of Protected Areas, Albania):

    Rock Partridge, is a breeder in Albania and very widely spread in all the mountainous areas from north to the south. It occurs from the altitude of 600-700 o.s.l up to over 2000 m in the alpine pastures. However, as Albania is a small country (28 748 sqkm) the species complies the B1 criteria as VU.
    In addition to that, a population decline of at least 30% it is estimated that has occurred in Albania in the three last generations due to poaching. Therefore, the species receives the status as “VU” under the A criteria (A1).
    Moreover, our estimates are that the population of this species in Albania is less than 10 000 mature individuals, therefore the it qualifies the criteria C, as “VU”.
    Furthermore, based on the estimated reduction trend the species qualifies the criteria “E” and “EN”, as the probability of extinction is over 20% in the next coming 5 generations. However, considering the implementation of the hunting ban in Albania. The threat of poaching has been highly diminished.
    To finalize, the population status for this species in Albania should be “VU”.

  16. Alexandros Giapis says:

    Dear colleagues,

    Concerning the species’ status in Greece, according to my opinion, is more than scientifically obvious, that without any scientifically checked and approved data, its alteration will not be accepted by anyone involved in its protection measurements.

    Since there exist the above mentioned recent scientific studies by Bontzorlos et al, 2012 and also by Tasoulas E. 2011, the older and self-challenged estimation of Handrinos and Akriotis (1997), which was not based on solid scientific data on rock partridge populations, is under severe reconsideration and revision.

    Therefore the Red List assessment should definitely be based on scientific data and studies and not on outdated rough personal estimations.

    Best regards!

  17. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    This comment is posted on behalf of Danae Portolou (Hellenic Ornithological Society, Greece):

    Under the framework of the EBBA2 project (2013-2018), standardized surveys (Atlas Timed-Visits) were carried out by more than 150 Greek and foreign experienced observers, covering the whole of Greece, mainland and insular regions. These data were used by the EBBA2 coordination team and ICO (Catalan Ornithological Institute) in order to produce estimates of species densities and abundances. Abundance per 50x50km was estimated through extrapolation of determined densities considering the coverage of the different habitats in each square (Verena et al. 2020).
    Densities (0,032 – 0,84 pairs/km2) and abundance (4,260-22,975 bp) values produced by EBBA2 are significantly lower than Bontzorlos et al. (2012) and comparable to the existing estimate of 7,000-13,000 breeding pairs. Thus, we propose that ΕΒΒΑ2 data are used as this Art12 reporting reference population size for Greece, until additional data are available.
    With respect to the study by Bontzorlos et al. (2012), there are significant issues leading to a biased estimation of the species population, therefore its results cannot be considered credible. These issues are summarized below:
    • No sampling strategy or description of the survey design that is in compatibility with distance sampling analysis is provided.
    There is no description regarding the population monitoring technique applied for the species i.e. stratified, random stratified or random sampling. Additionally, there is no description or visualization (map) of the plots (transects) that were used for the monitoring scheme.
    • Irregular sampling
    An irregularity in sampling procedures was identified. Specifically, wildlife refuges were oversampled while the actual sampling effort made was not consistent with the original as described in the methodology (Planned effort: 5075km – Actual effort: 2325km).
    • Violation of core Distance sampling assumptions was identified.
    Distance sampling is based on the assumption that objects recorded do not move (Buckland et al (2001), while the study involved flushing birds with dogs
    • Extrapolation of the density recorded in the study area to the rest of Greece.
    Extrapolation of the density of the study area to the rest of the suitable habitat in Greece, is erroneous and not efficiently supported with relevant data recorded in other areas in Greece other than the study area. As an example, population density in this survey is contradictory to the one estimated in Tasoulas (2011).

    Keller, V., Herrando, S., Voříšek, P., Franch, M., Kipson, M., Milanesi, P., Martí, D., Anton, M., Klvaňová, A., Kalyakin, M.V., Bauer, H.-G. & Foppen, R.P.B. (2020). European Breeding Bird Atlas 2: Distribution, Abundance and Change. European Bird Census Council & Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

  18. Christos Thomaides says:

    Τhe 2007-2013 national report includes more recent data as opposed to the 2013-2018 national report. You can find the aforementioned data of the 2013-2018 period in the following link:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envxnajgq/GR_birds_reports_20190731-163703.xml&conv=612&source=remote#A878_B

    More specifically, in the 2007-2013 national report the population of the species for the 2007-2013 period is 109338-133980 pairs based on the study by Bontzorlos, V. A., Vlachos, C. G., Bakaloudis, D. E., Chatzinikos, E. N., Dedousopoulou, E. A., Kiousis, D. K. & Thomaides, C., 2012. Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca graeca) population density and trends in central Greece. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 35.2: 371–380.
    http://abc.museucienciesjournals.cat/volume-35-2-2012-abc/rock-partridge-alectoris-graeca-graeca-population-density-and-trends-in-central-greece-2/?lang=en

    Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) population density and trends in central Greece. You can find the 2007-2013 report in the following link:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envv5hdfq/GR_birds_reports-16722-11399.xml&conv=343&source=remote#A465_B

    On the contrary, in the 2013-2018 national report the population of the species is 7000-13000 pairs for the 2013-2018 period based on the opinion of an expert with very limited data and in particular on the “RED BOOK OF ENDANGERED ANIMALS” that uses Handrinos’ book (Handrinos,G., & Akriotis, T., (1997) The birds of Greece. C. Helm, A & C Black, London.) that is republished by Birdlife International in 2004.

    Furthermore, questions are raised as to how it can be possible for the following numbers to be hunted (see table below) according to the data submitted in the 2013-2018 national report when the population is only 7000-13000 pairs.

    10. Information related to Annex II species (Art.7)

    10.2 Hunting bag a) Unit i – number of individuals
    b) Statistics
    /quantity taken 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018
    Min.
    (raw, ie. not rounded) 99900 103800 111200 70400 76500 68800
    Max.
    (raw, ie. not rounded) 115600 118300 126700 80600 89000 80800
    Unknown No No No No No No
    10.3 Hunting bag Method used Complete Survey – Complete survey or a statistically robust estimate
    10.4 Additional Information
    (Optional) ARTEMIS Project 1995-2018. Recording and
    monitoring game species populations in Greece through harvest indices.

    A typical feature of the rock partridge population is its stability thoughout Greece from the launching of the “ARTEMIS” project (Graph 1). Specifically, the species’ abundance indicators reflect stable but very low levels of Mean Annual Harvest per hunter and hunting outing combined with higher and equally stable values of mean annual hunting opportunity (Graph 1). These two indicators combined together with the stable ratio of encountered versus harvested game heads over time document the sustainable harvest of this species at national level.

    Graph 1. Evolution of rock partridge abundance indices per year from το 1995-1996 up to 2011-2012 throughout Greece: Mean Annual Hunting Opportunity, Mean Annual Harvest per hunter and hunting outing and Hunting Demand.

    Finally, according to the report of the EU entitled “METHODOLOGY FOR BIRD SPECIES RECOVERY PLANNING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION” (attached 5, link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/wildbirds/action_plans/docs/final_report.pdf) it is mentioned on page 203 that the population of the Rock Partridge (Alectoris
    graeca) in 1994 was 7000-13000 pairs, in 2004 7000-13000 pairs and in the period 2005-2010 78000-1475000 pairs.

  19. Christos Thomaides says:

    Τhe 2007-2013 national report includes more recent data as opposed to the 2013-2018 national report. You can find the aforementioned data of the 2013-2018 period in the following link:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envxnajgq/GR_birds_reports_20190731-163703.xml&conv=612&source=remote#A878_B

    More specifically, in the 2007-2013 national report the population of the species for the 2007-2013 period is 109338-133980 pairs based on the study by Bontzorlos, V. A., Vlachos, C. G., Bakaloudis, D. E., Chatzinikos, E. N., Dedousopoulou, E. A., Kiousis, D. K. & Thomaides, C., 2012. Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca graeca) population density and trends in central Greece. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, 35.2: 371–380.
    http://abc.museucienciesjournals.cat/volume-35-2-2012-abc/rock-partridge-alectoris-graeca-graeca-population-density-and-trends-in-central-greece-2/?lang=en

    Rock partridge (Alectoris graeca) population density and trends in central Greece. You can find the 2007-2013 report in the following link:
    http://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/Converters/run_conversion?file=gr/eu/art12/envv5hdfq/GR_birds_reports-16722-11399.xml&conv=343&source=remote#A465_B

    On the contrary, in the 2013-2018 national report the population of the species is 7000-13000 pairs for the 2013-2018 period based on the opinion of an expert with very limited data and in particular on the “RED BOOK OF ENDANGERED ANIMALS” that uses Handrinos’ book (Handrinos,G., & Akriotis, T., (1997) The birds of Greece. C. Helm, A & C Black, London.) that is republished by Birdlife International in 2004.

    Furthermore, questions are raised as to how it can be possible for the following numbers to be hunted (see table below) according to the data submitted in the 2013-2018 national report when the population is only 7000-13000 pairs.

    10. Information related to Annex II species (Art.7)

    10.2 Hunting bag a) Unit i – number of individuals
    b) Statistics
    /quantity taken 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018
    Min.
    (raw, ie. not rounded) 99900 103800 111200 70400 76500 68800
    Max.
    (raw, ie. not rounded) 115600 118300 126700 80600 89000 80800
    Unknown No No No No No No
    10.3 Hunting bag Method used Complete Survey – Complete survey or a statistically robust estimate
    10.4 Additional Information
    (Optional) ARTEMIS Project 1995-2018. Recording and
    monitoring game species populations in Greece through harvest indices.

    A typical feature of the rock partridge population is its stability thoughout Greece from the launching of the “ARTEMIS” project (Graph 1). Specifically, the species’ abundance indicators reflect stable but very low levels of Mean Annual Harvest per hunter and hunting outing combined with higher and equally stable values of mean annual hunting opportunity (Graph 1). These two indicators combined together with the stable ratio of encountered versus harvested game heads over time document the sustainable harvest of this species at national level.

    Graph 1. Evolution of rock partridge abundance indices per year from το 1995-1996 up to 2011-2012 throughout Greece: Mean Annual Hunting Opportunity, Mean Annual Harvest per hunter and hunting outing and Hunting Demand.

    Finally, according to the report of the EU entitled “METHODOLOGY FOR BIRD SPECIES RECOVERY PLANNING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION” (attached 5, link: https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/wildbirds/action_plans/docs/final_report.pdf) it is mentioned on page 203 that the population of the Rock Partridge (Alectoris
    graeca) in 1994 was 7000-13000 pairs, in 2004 7000-13000 pairs and in the period 2005-2010 78000-1475000 pairs.

    Dr. Christos Thomaides
    Associate professor
    Department of Forestry and Natural Environment Management
    Agricultural University of Athens

  20. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this discussion over the past 10 days. We realise that the window for consultation was short (and is now closed), and greatly appreciate the time and effort invested by so many people in commenting, especially during this unprecedented time globally. The volume and variety of responses received on this (and other) species means that it will take us several more days to digest, analyse and interpret everything. We will however do so as quickly as possible, posting our considered conclusions on this species’s status on this page in a final contribution by mid-April.

    Thank you once again, and Happy Easter.

    BirdLife Red List Team

  21. Red List Team (BirdLife International) says:

    Following careful review and consideration of the existing available information, as well as the new information and valuable views shared through the consultation above, we have now reached a decision on the status of this species for both the 2020 global Red List and the EU Red List of birds. Our conclusion is that this species should be classified as Near Threatened (A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd) – retaining its current global classification, but representing an adjustment since it was last assessed as Vulnerable at EU level in 2015.

    This decision takes into account evidence of population declines approaching or exceeding rates of 30% in 10 years from various countries, including the species’s classification as Near Threatened or Vulnerable in many existing and forthcoming National Red Lists. It also factors in the decline in hunting bags and hunting opportunity as indicators of population abundance, as reported by experts in several key countries, and the contraction in range reported by the compilers of the forthcoming 2nd European Breeding Bird Atlas.

    Acknowledging significant differences of opinion and divergent population estimates in Greece, we encourage relevant parties there to collaborate more closely on this species’s conservation, management and monitoring, with the aim of reaching broad consensus on a national population estimate and trend in time for the next round of Article 12 reporting in 2025. Similar collaboration in other range states would also help to increase the amount of reliable information available on this species, and thereby help to inform its conservation and management, as well as future status assessments.

    Many thanks once again to everyone who contributed to the discussion above and helped to inform this outcome. The 2020 Red List update for birds including this assessment will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December.

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