Investigating the effect of climate on UK grey partridge numbers
Speaker: Charles Cunningham (University of Bath)
I will be discussing my placement project undertaken with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust in which I carried out a preliminary investigation into the effects of weather on the grey partridge.
The UK population has decreased significantly from the early part of the 20th century, and is reflective of a much wider European decline in farmland birds. Weather has a part to play in fluctuations in grey partridge numbers but it is not known how they will be affected by the long-term changes expected to the UK climate.
To investigate this, models were fitted by comparing local weather data to grey partridge population parameters from count sites across the UK. Additionally, predictions of population parameters in 2080 were calculated using UKCP09 climate change projections to see how grey partridges would be affected.
Temperature had a positive effect on grey partridge productivity and rainfall a negative effect, as might be expected. However, in addition to this, weather variables included in the model from the previous year had the opposite effect, and may be due to the weather influencing the numbers of chick-food insects the following year. Although the demographic predictions are not conclusive, they provide an important insight into the ways in which the changing climate will impact upon grey partridge numbers.