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Are Farm-Reared Quails for Game Restocking Really Common Quails (Coturnix coturnix)?: A Genetic Approach

AuthorsSanchez-Donoso, Inés; Vilà, Carles ; Puigcerver, Manel; Butkauskas, Dalius; Caballero de la Calle, José Ramón; Morales-Rodríguez, Pablo Antonio; Rodríguez-Teijeiro, José D.
Issue Date2012
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 7(6): e39031
AbstractThe common quail (Coturnix coturnix) is a popular game species for which restocking with farm-reared individuals is a common practice. In some areas, the number of released quails greatly surpasses the number of wild breeding common quail. However, common quail are difficult to raise in captivity and this casts suspicion about a possible hybrid origin of the farmed individuals from crosses with domestic Japanese quail (C. japonica). In this study we used a panel of autosomal microsatellite markers to characterize the genetic origin of quails reared for hunting purposes in game farms in Spain and of quails from an experimental game farm which was founded with hybrids that have been systematically backcrossed with wild common quails. The genotypes of these quail were compared to those of wild common quail and domestic strains of Japanese quail. Our results show that more than 85% of the game farm birds were not common quail but had domestic Japanese quail ancestry. In the experimental farm a larger proportion of individuals could not be clearly separated from pure common quails. We conclude that the majority of quail sold for restocking purposes were not common quail. Genetic monitoring of individuals raised for restocking is indispensable as the massive release of farm-reared hybrids could represent a severe threat for the long term survival of the native species
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039031
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