The Autumnal Diet of Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) in the Central Apennines

De Sanctis A., Pellegrini M. ,Biondi M. , Manzi A., Massa B.

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A preliminary study on the autumnal diet of the Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca) in the Central Apennines was carried out through the analysis of 21 gizzard contents. Considering both the number of species present and the variety of parts of plants consumed the diet was rather diversified. Green parts of plants were always found, especially Cistaceae (Helianthemum oelandicum) and Leguminosae. Seeds and fruits were present in 85.5% of the gizzards and the botanical families represented most frequently were Compositae, Fagaceae (Ostrya carpinifolia and Fagus sylvatica), Cistaceae and Leguminosae. Roots and bulbs appeared less frequently (14%). Coleoptera Chrysomelidae and Orthoptera were found respectively in 43% and 33.3% of the gizzards and constituted 94.5% of the total number of arthropods. Most of these taxa are linked to rocky slopes, xerophilous and short grass pastures, or abandoned fields. These results stressed the importance of maintaining and managing a mosaic of habitats for the conservation of this bird.