Translocation of northern bobwhite and scaled quail from South Texas to the Rolling Plains of Texas
Yancey, Sean R.
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Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are an incredibly important resource throughout the state of Texas, that provide recreational activities for sportsmen. Throughout the Rolling Plains of Texas many communities and landowners rely, in part, on the direct and indirect economic revenue that can be generated by quail hunting making bobwhites a valuable commodity. Being valuable and recreationally important, there is an increased concern when bobwhite populations decline throughout the region. These declines leave agencies and land managers searching for causes, and potential solutions to reverse these population trends. A 2-year translocation effort of moving Northern bobwhites and scaled quail was assessed for potential to supplement struggling resident populations just prior to breeding season (April) with source stock originating from a separate ecoregion. Both translocated and resident Northern bobwhite demographic parameters of survival, home range, nest success, and reproductive output were estimated for comparison as well as influences on these parameters. Cause specific mortality was also determined and reported. Translocated scaled quail were monitored to determine survival and cause specific mortality. Resident Northern bobwhites experienced greater survival than translocated individuals in both 2013 and 2014 (χ2 = 4.7, P=0.03; χ2 = 6.7, P=0.01, respectively). Home range estimates did not differ between translocated and resident bobwhites (20.59 ± 2.97 ha and 29.05 ± 4.58 ha, respectively). Nest success was relatively high for translocated bobwhites, however, few nests were attempted due to low survival of individuals. Translocated scaled quail experienced extremely low survival in both 2013 and 2014 with no known individuals surviving the study period. The longest known survival for translocated scale quail in this study was 38 days post-release. Based on the results observed in our study, translocated bobwhites and scaled quail from South Texas did not survive at a rate where this method could be considered a viable technique to bolster recovering or absent populations. Attempts to translocate quail should focus on reducing the distance between source and release site, preferably within the same ecological region. To increase the potential of cross-ecoregion translocation focus should be on methods to increase survival 1-month post release. In conjunction with the translocation efforts, I also assessed the viability of localizing Northern bobwhite covey calls via bioacoustics localization methods. Current methods of fall covey counts involve significant observer bias, and automating detection methods could prove beneficial to reducing sampling efforts and bias. It was found that this method, while promising, involved large amounts of manually processing of data and further advancements need to be made for automation of covey call localization.