Detailed knowledge of demographic parameters (such as age structure and reproduction rates) is crucial for guiding conservation and management decisions regarding wildlife populations. Such parameters of wild ring-necked pheasant populations in the current agricultural landscape remain very poorly described. We researched age structure and reproduction rates of predominantly wild populations of the ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus L.) across the intensively managed agricultural landscape of the Czech Republic. The study area is influenced only marginally by hand-reared pheasants (i.e. as shown by comparison of the average number of released individuals in the study area: 0.3 ♂/yr/1km2 and 0.9 ♀/yr/1km2 and average number of released individuals and harvested in the study area: 8.6 ♂/yr/1km2) and there is a long-term huntable pheasant population. To determine the age of individuals, we used proximal primary feather shaft diameters of 1487 feather samples from males hunted between 2009 and 2011. Moreover, we evaluated the age structure of females as well as both sexes together based on the sex ratio and annual game census. We found a relatively high proportion of adults in the population in comparison with other studies. However, the number of adults decreased throughout the years: 2009 (♂ 44.7%; ♀ 69.5%; ♂♀ 60.7%), 2010 (♂ 35.2%; ♀ 61.3%; ♂♀ 51.5%), 2011 (♂ 29.8%; ♀ 57.4%; ♂♀ 47.0%). The decrease of adults went hand in hand with increase of juveniles and reproduction rates of the study population: 2009 (♂ 124%; ♀ 44%; ♂♀ 65%), 2010 (♂ 184%; ♀ 63%; ♂♀ 94%), 2011 (♂ 236%; ♀ 74%; ♂♀ 113%). Only males were hunted in the study area so we determined higher proportions of females in population for all years. This is the main reason why the reproduction rate of females was lower in percentage expression. Generally, our results showed lower productivity of pheasants in the Czech agricultural landscape in comparison with earlier published studies conducted in the US and UK. However, these studies were published many years ago and thus do not reflect the actual environmental conditions and changes which took place recently (i.e. agricultural intensification).
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Vol. 62 • No. 4