Pheasants, buzzards, and trophic cascades
Article first published online: 7 JAN 2013
©2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 6, Issue 2, pages 141–144, April 2013
How to Cite
Lees, A. C., Newton, I. and Balmford, A. (2013), Pheasants, buzzards, and trophic cascades. Conservation Letters, 6: 141–144. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-263X.2012.00301.x
- Issue published online: 8 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 7 JAN 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 29 OCT 2012 01:20PM EST
- Received 6 July 2012, Accepted 9 October 2012, Editor Andras Baldi
- Birds of prey;
- cascade effects;
- game hunting;
- intraguild predation;
The partial recovery of large birds of prey in lowland Britain has reignited conflicts with game managers and prompted a controversial U.K. government proposal to investigate ways of limiting losses to pheasant shooting operations. Yet best estimates are that buzzards are only a minor source of pheasant mortality–road traffic, for example, is far more important. Moreover, because there are often large numbers of nonbreeding buzzards, local control of breeding pairs may simply lead to their replacement by immigrant buzzards. Most significantly, consideration of the complexity of trophic interactions suggests that even if successful, lowering buzzard numbers may directly or indirectly increase the abundance of other medium-sized predators (such as foxes and corvids) which potentially have much greater impacts on pheasant numbers. To be effective, interventions need to be underpinned by far more rigorous understanding of the dynamics of ecosystems dominated by artificially reared, superabundant nonnative game species.