|Nutritional and genetic adaptation of galliform birds: implications for hand-rearing and restocking|
This work consists of six studies investigating the background of the poor survival of hand-reared galliform birds released into the wild. The aim of these works was to clarify those morphological, physiological, and genetic differences between wild and hand-reared birds, which may explain the high mortality of released birds. Hand-rearing and releasing gamebirds may not only be game management, but also species or biodiversity conservation activities. Accordingly, the subspecies of the birds raised for releasing purposes must be of the same genetic stock as the birds from the releasing site. The rearing methods should be conducted in a way that enables the birds’ morphology and physiology to develop in natural ways. This includes feeding practices as well as rearing aviaries, which should, at least to some extent, mimic life in the wild.
Further studies can be easily designed based on the results of the present studies. It would be of interest to study more closely the detoxication mechanisms of galliform birds. What happens in the caeca and small intestine and what kinds of microbes take part in the detoxication activities? Is the hepatic detoxication enzyme activity inducible with other plant secondary compounds, like terpenoids or alcaloids? Do birds produce proline-containing proteins in their saliva as protection against plant secondary compounds?
In the field of molecular marker analyses, and their applications, several fascinating visions can be seen. The easternmost parts of the European continent and the whole Asian distribution area of the grey partridge are still open questions regarding the genetic structure of the populations. By sequencing grey partridges from these areas we could get more detailed information about the post-glacial colonisation routes of the European grey partridges. Other molecular markers, such as microsatellites, could be used to validate or deepen this approach. The viability and fertility of the hybrid offspring of grey partridges representing eastern and western mtDNA lineages should be verified.
Both the grey partridge and the capercaillie have suffered from human impact on their natural environments. Thus, both species may be considered as bioindicators, when environmental questions are studied both in agriculture and forestry contexts. As I think that the grey partridge is the most beautiful bird in the world – and the capercaillie probably the second most beautiful – I may conclude that the beauty of these birds is worth saving as a value itself.