• ancient DNA;
  • genetic variation;
  • microsatellites;
  • mtDNA;
  • population genetics;
  • stocking effects

Non-local population stocking can have adverse genetic effects on wild populations through loss of genetic diversity and introgressive hybridization. The grey partridge (Perdix perdix) has been an important European game species for centuries, widely subject to translocation and stocking. After c. 80 years of releasing reared grey partridges in Denmark, this study investigated whether an indigenous Danish grey partridge still existed. If so, they would (1) belong to the western European clade (W1) and (2) be more closely related to the historical, indigenous grey partridges than to farm-bred partridges. These predictions were tested by analysing the variation in both the mitochondrial control region (CR1) and microsatellite markers in museum samples representing the ancestral indigenous Danish grey partridge, contemporary wild grey partridges and farmed grey partridges from the five largest farms in Denmark. Phylogeography and population structure analyses showed traces of the indigenous Danish grey partridges amongst recent wild partridges in certain areas and significant genetic differences between farmed partridges and historical and recent partridges. The results also showed that the indigenous Danish grey partridges belonged to the western European clade (W1 haplotype). A foreign stocking effect was detected on the remote island of Bornholm, where the current population originated from introduced Danish and Bohemian grey partridges. The loss of haplotype diversity over time in certain geographical areas probably results from serious declines in wild Danish grey partridge numbers in recent decades. This, combined with the observation that hybridization between released stocked and wild partridges can occur, may complicate recovery of partridge populations. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 694–710.