Sound management and policy approaches are rooted in sound science. The pheasant's importance as a game species around the world has generated much scientific interest in its biology and responses to management for more than a century (see an early example here). In North America, pheasants were a popular subject of study for the first cadre of wildlife biologists that emerged prior to World War II, exemplified by the fact that pheasants were the topic the very first paper published in the Journal of Wildlife Management. In short, pheasant conservation and the wildlife profession grew up together.
As a result of this history, the volume of information available about pheasants is remarkable. We know much about pheasant biology and management, and that knowledge is being dutifully employed by wildlife professionals across the species' range. The "more habitat equals more pheasants" equation is rightly axiomatic. However, at least two general areas of uncertainty remain for pheasant managers.
First, although the birds' needs are the same as they ever were, the agricultural environments they inhabit are constantly changing due to emerging market forces, technologies, and farm policies. Sometimes the effect of these changes on pheasants is easy to predict, but often the changes occur in novel combinations of old and new factors that make conclusions based on past research questionable. New data are often needed to measure the results of these shifting impacts so, if necessary, effective countermeasures can be recommended.
Second, simply knowing the pheasant's basic needs has not prevented their decline in many areas. Effective pheasant management is not just about biology, but includes aspects of the social sciences, as well. Social factors influence hunter activity (and hence license revenues), farming and ranching decisions, and policymaking, which in turn critically impact the manager's ability to work with landowners in providing habitat. Research that helps managers understand and integrate the social and biological aspects of pheasant conservation is an ongoing need.
Summaries of key literature are provided to illustrate the science that underpins current management programs.
Synopses of current research are provided to illustrate contemporary questions that are now being explored.