By Bonnie Chasteen
Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.
What kind of management and resulting cover help bobwhite quail evade hungry predators and survive winter’s bitter weather?
Research partners, including University of Missouri graduate research assistant Alisha Mosloff, University of Missouri Assistant Professor Mitch Weegman, MDC Resource Scientist Tom Thompson, and U. S. Forest Service Research Wildlife Biologist Frank Thompson, are working to answer this and other questions about quail survival throughout the year.
Thompson said that looking at only one specific period has limited research in the past. “Getting that full life-cycle picture of how quail populations are doing throughout the whole year will really help,” he said.
Mosloff and partners focused their winter study on intensive versus extensive landscapes in southwest Missouri. “Intensive is more the traditional type of management,” Mosloff said. “For example, working on smaller blocks of less than 40 acres interspersed with small food plots, grass strips, and cover habitat.”
Extensive describes large tracts of native grasslands and prairies interspersed with shrubs and managed with periodic grazing and fire.
“We’re looking to contrast these two management practices to see which might lead to higher survival during the winter,” Mosloff said.
She and the research crew collared and radiotracked quail on the same five sites, three extensive and two intensive, in 2017 and 2018. The crew also collected data on the kinds and amounts of vegetation on each of the study sites in 2018.
In addition to comparing the effects of traditional versus prairie-management practices on quail winter survival, the partners can also compare winter versus summer survival. “These two studies have been conducted in tandem,” Weegman said.
“We’re finally getting into what quail need throughout the full year,” Mosloff added.
Researchers captured adult and hatch-year quail using funnel traps during October 2017 and 2018 on three traditionally managed conservation areas and two prairie dominated conservation areas
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