Recent distribution of red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa in Piedmont (North Western Italy): signs of recent spreading

Tizzani P., Boano G., Mosso M., Pelazza M., Carolfi S., Ferra M., Marletta N., Pio G., Pellegrino G., Meneguz P.G., Silvano F., Negri E., Spanò S.

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The red-legged partridge Alectoris rufa in Piedmont (NW Italy) is historically limited to the hilly and low-mountain areas of the southern half of the region, in particular lying in the Langhe and the Apennines on the Ligurian border, in the districts of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria. In the Cuneo district, on the Maritime Alps, hybrid populations with Alectoris graeca were also known. The distribution of the species has been mapped in some occasions with the “Atlases” projects of the GPSO (Gruppo Piemontese Studi Ornitologici) and special enquiries. On this occasion we tried to update the geographical distribution of the species using data conferred by bird-watchers on, managed by the GPSO, enquiries among hunters’ organizations and specifc feld researches. The resulting distribution is shown on a 10 km square grid. The species shows signs of distribution dynamism, with the occupation of some lowland areas, where it was totally absent until the ‘90s. A little range expansion is noticeable also in the Western Monferrato. The situation seems to be more stable (or even declining) in the Langhe area and the species is now disappeared from the alpine border. In general we are seeing an areal contraction or density reduction on hills and mountains and an extension on lowlands. The observed changes seem to be attributable mainly to environmental and climate changes.