Quantifying genetic distance between wild and captive strains of the grey partridge Perdix perdix in France: conservation implications

  • Nicolas BechEmail author
  • Claude Novoa
  • Jean-François Allienne
  • Jérôme Boissier
  • Elisabeth Bro
Original Paper


The grey partridge Perdix perdix is an important gamebird in Europe. Its numbers have decreased dramatically during the XXth century and releases are commonly undertaken for the conservation of the populations and/or hunting purposes in Western Europe. However, this practice that generally involves birds from commercial farms raises several concerns, among which a potential hybridization between farmed and wild individuals. Herein, based on microsatellite markers, we characterize the genetic patterns of farmed birds in view of wild birds of the two French subspecies (P. p. armoricana in central-northern France and P. p. hispaniensis in the Pyrenees). Hence, we estimate the risk of genetic introgression between wild and farmed birds. Our results highlight a genetic divergence between both subspecies—in accordance with the known evolutionary history of the grey partridge during the Quaternary. In central-northern France, a slight but significant difference in the genetic signature between wild and farmed partridges is detected. This difference however does not seem prone to alter the gene pool of wild birds if farmed birds are released in the wild and reproduce. On the contrary, in the Pyrenees, the large and significant genetic difference between wild and farmed birds represents a real risk of genetic introgression. This threat should be taken into account in population management.


Perdix perdix Conservation Hybridization Genetic introgression Microsatellites 



We wish to warmly thank all the field technicians from the French National Game and Wildlife Agency (ONCFS) and from Hunter associations (FDC 14, 35, 41 and 60) as well as hunters who collected the samples. We also thank our colleagues from the Govern of Andorra and the Generalitat de Catalunya, and the conservative breeding center at the ONCFS. We are grateful to two anonymous referees that provided helpful comments to revise the manuscript.


This research was supported by the Convention ONCFS—University of Poitiers—University of Perpignan—CNRS no. 2014 12 6171. Funds issued from partners and from the 2015 to 2020 State-Region Planning Contracts (CPER), the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER), the partnership arrangements in ecology and the environment (DIPEE).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study was conducted in accordance with the principles and specific guidelines of the French current legislation for animal welfare and wildlife regulations. No animal was killed for the purpose of this study. All the biological samples were collected from dead animals, by taking the opportunity of hunting bags.

Supplementary material

10531_2019_1901_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (63 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 63 kb)
10531_2019_1901_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (77 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 77 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Ecologie et Biologie des Interactions (EBI), CNRS, UMR 7267Poitiers UniversityPoitiers CedexFrance
  2. 2.National Game and Wildlife Agency, Research DepartmentPradesFrance
  3. 3.Laboratory of Ecologie et Evolution des Interactions (2EI), CNRS, UMR 5244Perpignan UniversityPerpignanFrance
  4. 4.National Game and Wildlife Agency, Research DepartmentLe Perray-en-Yvelines CedexFrance

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