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Keywords:

  • chick survival;
  • cyanoacrylate;
  • gamebird management;
  • predation;
  • radiotracking;
  • retention time;
  • Spain;
  • tag attachment

A better knowledge of chick survival rates is required to enable understanding of the population dynamics of gamebirds and to develop management measures to conserve their populations. The Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa is a highly valued game species in Spain but its populations have declined in recent decades. A lack of appropriate monitoring methods has been a limitation in gaining information on the mortality of Red-legged Partridge chicks. We developed methods for the effective radiotagging of chicks in captivity and applied these methods in the field in northern Spain to estimate survival during the first 5 months of life. The most effective method for radiotagging captive chicks between 3 and 8 days old involved gluing small tags directly to the skin in the interscapular space using cyanoacrylate adhesive. Backpack harness tags attached with elastic bands were the most effective method of radiotagging 4-week-old chicks. Predation was the main cause of chick mortality identified during the field experiments. Survival between hatching and 5 months of age was estimated to be 16–21%. The lowest survival rates occurred during the first 7 days of life (62–70% cumulative survival) and this period seems to be a major determinant in the life history of the species.