IUCN-Species Survival Commission


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1. What is the Galliformes Specialist Group?

2. What is the Grouse Group ?

3. Background and Objectives of the GG.

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August 2009

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1. What is the Galliformes Specialist Group?

The Galliformes Specialist Group results from merging the existing five Specialist Groups for the Galliformes (Grouse, Partridges Quails and Francolins -PQF-, Megapodes but also Cracids and Tinamous) to form a single IUCN/SSC Galliformes Specialist Group (GSG). Thus from 2009 on, 'GSG' stands for 'Galliformes Specialist Group', and no longer for 'Grouse Specialist Group' alone. Nevertheless, the grouse network will persist as the Grouse Group within the GSG (see point 2. below).

The new Galliformes Specialist Group (GSG) will have greater impact in conservation and provide a better representation of all threatened Galliformes and their habitats than would have been possible with separate SGs.
The GSG operates under the authority of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Dr. Peter Garson (University of Newcastle, UK, formerly Pheasant SG), and Ilse Storch (University of Freiburg, Germany; formerly Grouse SG), were appointed as Co-Chairs of the new GSG. The Co-Chairs are supported by an Advisory Board with members representing all the main taxa (including the ecologically similar Tinamous), all their geographic regions, and topical expertise in key areas such as Red List procedure, conservation genetics, sustainable use, conservation breeding and re-introduction.


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2. What is the Grouse Group?

The GSG is a global voluntary network of persons professionally involved in the study, conservation, and sustainable management of Galliformes. The Grouse Group (formerly the Grouse Specialist Group), as part of the GSG, is a network of >100 scientists and conservationists specialized in grouse. The Grouse Group is particularly concerned with the conservation of threatened grouse species, subspecies, and populations in seeking ways to maintain viable populations in their natural habitats. The GG is committed to understanding and securing viable populations of all species and subspecies of grouse in their natural habitats.

Major activities of the Grouse Group include the biannual newsletter Grouse News, this grouse website, and the series of International Grouse Symposia.
Ilse Storch (University of Freiburg, Germany; Chair of the Grouse Specialist group from 1996-2008) is representing the Grouse Group in the GSG. The work of the Grouse Group is supported by a core committee.


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3. Background and Objectives of the GG


Grouse have long attracted and fascinated people. Their display behaviour, and particularly the communal mating grounds, or "leks", of the capercaillie, the black grouse, and the prairie grouse, have inspired poetry and folklore in Eurasia as well as North America. Perhaps even more importantly, grouse hunting has played a major role in the subsistence, economy, and culture of local communities. Grouse also show many features interesting to scientists. In fact, grouse are among the best-studied bird taxa worldwide.
Grouse mating systems have been studied to develop theories of sexual selection and evolution. Grouse population cycles remain a major puzzle for population ecologists. Grouse were part of the first studiesof habitat fragmentation and landscape ecology. Those studies have opened our eyes to the great influences the wider surroundings can have on the habitat and dynamics of grouse and other wildlife species.

Today, three of the 18 species of grouse are considered threatened with extinction, three are considered near-threathened, and one is data-deficient (IUCN 2004). Most species of grouse have lost parts of their ranges, show negative trends, and many local populations have gone extinct. The major threat to grouse is in man-made changes of the habitat. Grouse play an important role for conservation: as typical representatives of a wide spectrum of natural habitats, grouse are indicators of ecosystem health. Their indicator function and their attractiveness to people make grouse excellent flagship species to promote conservation. In that sense, grouse conservation is conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity in general.

The GSG and its Grouse Group are working along these lines. Securing viable populations of all species and subspecies of grouse in the wild, and thereby promoting the idea of biodiversity conservation, is the Grouse Group´s major goal. The Grouse Group
is working towards its goal though a set of linked objectives.
The major ones are these:

  • Maintaining a global network of grouse specialists
  • Assessing the conservation status of all Grouse species, using the IUCN Red List
  • Publishing Action Plans to detail information on threatened species and outline a programme of priority projects
  • Publishing a newsletter (Grouse News) twice each year
  • Organisation of symposia and workshops
  • Promoting and implementing grouse conservation action
  • Giving advice and to assist with fundraising for projects

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Texts updated 16. August 2009


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