, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 199-204
Date: 05 Sep 2007

Sanitary risks of red-legged partridge releases: introduction of parasites

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We studied the helminth community and body condition of 99 hunter-harvested red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) from Ciudad Real (Central Spain). Forty-six were sampled in two game estates where an important number of farm-reared red-legged partridges are released yearly. The remaining 53 were obtained from natural wild populations adjacent to one of the estates with releases. Four nematode species (Heterakis gallinarum, Aonchoteca caudinflata, Eucoleus contortus and Cheilospirura gruveli) and two cestode species (Raillietina (R.) tetragona and Skryabinia bolivari) were identified. The managed areas showed higher parasite diversity, with higher prevalences and intensities for all helminths found. Three of these species were typical of farm-bred partridges and two of these, A. caundinflata and S. bolivari, were found parasitizing adult partridges. This suggests introduction of these helminths into the breeding population of managed states. The birds sampled in the nonmanaged estates showed a better body condition, but no relation with parasite infection was found. Our results suggest that the release of farm-reared red-legged partridges, a strategy that is becoming a common practice in Spanish hunting areas, poses risk to wild populations because of introducing parasites. However, these results also suggest that simply stopping releases may be a good way to remove locally those parasites from populations, as the establishment of the introduced parasites seems limited.

Communicated by W. Lutz