Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis is considered Vulnerable to extinction as its native grassland habitat is converted to agricultural land. However, there are virtually no life history data available to allow the impact of these changes on the species to be assessed. Thirteen birds were radio-tracked during the breeding season on agricultural land near Dudwa National Park in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. The study area was dominated by sugar-cane fields, but also contained other crops and natural wet grassland. Home range size varied from 273 m2 to 2,687 m2 and was significantly correlated with tracking duration. We did not detect significant patterns in overall use of habitats at either the home-range level (P = 0.14) or at the radio-location level (P = 0.13). However, some individual habitats appeared to be used in proportions that differed from random expectations. At the home range level, birds appeared to favour tall sugar-cane and grassland whilst at the individual location level, grassland and wet areas were most used. Radio-tagged birds made six nests, of which only two hatched young. One was in an old sugar-cane field and the other on grassland. Although we did not detect statistical significance, we believe that developing an appropriate management regime for this species is so urgent that the results are sufficient to manage adaptively the species' habitat at least on an experimental scale. These data suggest that a matrix of habitats, including agricultural land, can supply the necessary components to satisfy the various requirements of Swamp Francolin. However, some natural grassland habitat associated with wet areas appears to be critical. The crucial challenge is to make sure that agricultural landscapes have these habitats present in the right proportions and spatial arrangements to support viable populations of Swamp Francolin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Nature and Landscape Conservation