Census of the Sicilian rock partridge Alectoris graeca whitakeri population in ZPS ITA010029 Monte Cofano, Capo San Vito and Monte Sparagio

Mario Lo Valvo M., Sorace G., Giacalone G.

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During the project “LIFE09 NAT/IT/000099–SICALECONS–Urgent actions for the conservation of Alectoris graeca whitakeri”, this species was censused in the ZPS ITA010029 Monte Cofano, Capo San Vito and Monte Sparagio (Trapani province, Sicily) with playback technique between March and April 2011. Superimposing a UTM grid of 1 km mesh on the study area produced cells of 100 hectares. Using a GPS satellite receiver we reached, where possible, the centre of each cell from where the cospecifc call was broadcasted. A total of 163 listening stations were implemented. Using software GIS ARCMAP 10.0 (ESRI) presence data were interpolated with vegetational and phytosociological maps (CORINE) to establish rock partridge’s suitable area. The range of the rock partridge in the ZPS was calculated to be 9,893 hectares, corresponding to approximately 65% of the ZPS. A total of 29 individuals were counted, corresponding to 5 pairs and 19 calling males.The Sicilian rock partridge population in the ZPS was estimated to be 66 pairs. Density values in the ZPS were lower than those reported for other areas. In the ZPS highest density was observed in Zingaro Reserve, where poaching seems to be less frequent compared to other areas of ZPS and where burning has not been recorded for years.