Biomass of aliens

Blackburn, T.M. & Gaston, K.J. 2021. Contribution of non-native galliforms to annual variation in biomass of British birds. Biological Invasions, 23, 1549-1562.

Millions of individuals of two species of non-native galliform birds, the Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) and Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) are released into the British countryside annually in late summer, supplementing established breeding populations of these two species. The biomass of birds involved in these releases has been compared to the British breeding bird biomass. However, the validity of this comparison is compromised because the biomass of wild birds varies across the year due to reproduction, mortality and migration. How the biomass of Common Pheasants and Redlegged Partridges compares to that of other British bird species in late summer, or across the whole year, is currently unknown. Here, we produce estimates of how British bird biomass varies across the year, to assess the contribution of the two non-native galliforms to this variation. We show that overall British bird biomass is probably lowest around the start of the breeding season in April, and peaks in late summer and autumn. We estimate that around a quarter of British bird biomass annually is contributed by Common Pheasants and Red-legged Partridges, and that at their peak in August these two species represent about half of all wild bird biomass in Britain.