Population genetics, behavioural ecology and management of the Greywing Francolin Francolinus africanus

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study investigates the population genetics and behavioural ecology of the Greywing Francolin, Francolinus africanus, and identifies factors which influence the distribution and abundance of this important gamebird. It also develops scientifically sound management strategies which should allow the maintenance of populations at levels which will produce sustained and economically viable hunting yields as a co-product of agriculture. Examination of genetic variability based on allozymes disclosed estimates of average within-population heterozygosity higher than that for most birds, and for all other galliformes for which data are available. Thus, Greywing apparently have a high degree of population stability and large effective population sizes. Indirect estimates of migration and several significant allelefrequency differences between nearby coveys suggest that there is a greater degree of genetic subdivision among Greywing populations than among populations of other birds. However, although the data suggest that populations are genetically differentiated on a large geographical scale, they also indicate that there is considerable dispersal, which produces outbred subpopulations on a fine geographical scale. Greywing therefore have a wealth of genetic variability that may 'buffer' populations against environmental changes, responsible hunting and/or short-term demographic bottlenecks. They also appear to undergo sufficient migration so that recruitment from adjacent populations will ensure population stability in hunted areas.

Bibliography: p. 237-249.