Upland Game


An Analysis of Weight Loss and Stress Physiology of Captive-Reared and Translocated California Valley Quail
Jeffrey Whitt, Kelly Reyna, Sarah Currier
Avian translocations often result in weight loss and physiological stress, likely contributing to low survival rates for translocated birds. However, both factors are often overlooked when translocating quail. Quail translocations are becoming increasingly popular due to rapidly declining populations in the U.S., there is a growing need for a non-invasive assessment of stress. The objectives of this study were to (1) determine fluctuations in fecal corticosterone metabolite (FCM) concentrations of California valley quail (Callipepla californica) in response to a simulated 48-h translocation, (2) biologically validate the use of FCM as a non-invasive measurement of stress in valley quail, and (3) determine the magnitude of weight loss and (4) evaluate the effectiveness of dietary supplements vitamin C and E to minimize weight loss and stress during translocations. Valley quail (n = 120) were housed in an outdoor aviary for 3 weeks to obtain reference FCM concentrations, sorted into four treatment groups (vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin C + E, and control), and individually housed in a laboratory setting to simulate a 48-h translocation. Fecal samples were collected every 4 h and processed using an enzyme immunoassay. Mean ±SEM reference FCM concentrations were (24.6 ± 2.0 ng/g), lower than FCM concentrations during the simulated translocation (36.2 ± 0.70 ng/g). FCM concentrations varied diurnally during the simulated translocation with higher concentrations 10:00–17:00, and lower concentrations 20:00–05:00. The simulated translocation resulted in weight loss in all groups. Mean ±SD weight loss was significantly lower in the control group (14.7 g ±9.6 g) than the vitamin E group (19.5 g ±4.7 g). These results verify the stressful nature of quail translocations and validate FCM concentration as a non-invasive method to assess stress hormone levels in Valley quail. Further investigation into minimizing weight loss and stress during translocations could make translocation projects more successful.
Analysis of Predator Avoidance Behavior in California Valley Quail
Jeffrey Whitt, Curt Vandenberg, Kelly Reyna
Quail populations have been in decline across the U.S., primarily due to habitat loss and climate. For remedy, landowners and game managers have attempted to restore populations by releasing captive-reared quail. These releases were largely unsuccessful, presumably due to high predation losses. Since ~2010, there has been an increased interest in quail translocations, which tend to have lower mortality rates than captive-reared bird releases. Translocations are expensive, unpredictable, and require many person-hours; releasing captive-reared quail would be more efficient if the practice were successful. We compared predator avoidance behavior between captive-reared and wild-translocated California quail in an aviary using simulated predator attacks (raptorial and mammalian). We recorded time to predator detection, time to anti-predator response, and response type. Predator detection time between captive-reared and wild-translocated quail was not different. However, captive-reared quail had a shorter anti-predator response time than wild-translocated quail when subjected to simulated raptorial and mammalian attacks. Response type frequencies were different. Captive-reared quail ran more frequently than wild-translocated quail when encountering a simulated predator. These results offer insight into observed differences in post-release mortality between captive-reared and wild-caught quail and suggest future research toward improving captive-reared quail releases and translocations.
Effects of Cover Type on Seasonal Movement Patterns in Ruffed Grouse in Northern Wisconsin
Ava Weisbeck, Zach Cason, Brady Roberts, Catrina Johnson, Jason Riddle
Effects of Cover Type on Seasonal Movement Patterns in Ruffed Grouse in Northern Wisconsin Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) are an important game bird in the Great Lakes region that relies heavily on young forest with high stem density. Males perform a unique drumming display atop fallen logs to attract females and maintain their territory throughout the spring. Following their breeding season, this territory may change as a result of altered needs. We aim to evaluate the relationship of Ruffed Grouse movement patterns to cover types in Northern Wisconsin as part of a UW-Stevens Point Wildlife Society undergraduate research project. Male Ruffed Grouse were captured with mirror box traps placed on active drumming logs between March and May of 2019 and 2021. Telemetry was conducted between March and August of 2019 and 2021. We hypothesize that cover type may be affecting seasonal movement patterns. Land cover was examined within grouse home ranges using Locate 3.11 and ArcMap with the two years of data. Using these methods, we aim to determine whether Ruffed Grouse use different resources and land cover types seasonally. A preliminary study with data from only one year suggested that there may be selection for aspen cover type during the mating season, but this was not statistically significant. This information can be used to influence habitat management decisions on the Treehaven property and other Ruffed Grouse management areas.
Translocation of Northern Bobwhite in Texas: Year Three – SRIP
Emily Vincik, John Palarski, Heather A. Mathewson, Bradley Kubecka, Dale Rollins
The gradual decline of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; hereafter bobwhite) has resulted in remnant populations throughout their historic range. Within the Cross Timbers ecoregion of Texas, similar declines have been observed. To combat this decline, land managers have worked to restore bobwhite habitat. Isolated patches of habitat exist; however, populations remain low. Translocation has been successful in reestablishing populations of many different gamebirds, including bobwhite in the southeastern U.S. As a result, bobwhite translocation has emerged as a conservation tool to revitalize and augment existing populations. Despite numerous bobwhite translocations, our understanding of the effects of source population on translocation success is limited. Sampling from multiple source populations is vital because it not only allows us to examine how each source population reacts to a new environment, but it also brings us one step closer to understanding the process of translocation as a whole. To assess the effects of source population, we sampled bobwhite from two different ecoregions of Texas. Our objectives are to compare breeding season survival (1 April – 1 September) and reproductive output between the two different source populations of bobwhite in Texas. We translocated 262 (n = 119 south Texas and n = 143 northwest Texas) bobwhite in March 2021 to a 1,011-ha ranch in northcentral Texas as part of an ongoing translocation project. We radio marked 159 individuals (n = 77 south Texas and n = 82 northwest Texas) with VHF transmitters to monitor breeding season survival and reproduction. We monitored radio-marked individuals daily during the breeding season. Findings from this study will be used to aid managers who wish to restore bobwhite populations via translocation.
Evaluating the Role of NDVI-Based Phenology Metrics in Lesser Prairie-Chicken Nest-Site Selection – SRIP
Ashley Messier, Daniel Sullins, David Haukos, Christopher O’Meilia
The lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) is an at-risk grassland obligate species that relies on healthy, intact grasslands to reproduce. The ability to monitor and identify broad-scale habitat availability for this species is important for future conservation efforts, yet also difficult given the large area needed to sustain populations (~8,000 ha). Fortunately, continuing advancements in remote sensing technology may make broad-scale monitoring feasible. Remotely sensed vegetation indices such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and associated phenology metrics (amplitude, duration, maximum NDVI, etc.) can provide information about the productivity and health of grasslands. These metrics may also yield inferences about the availability of lesser prairie-chicken reproductive habitat at relevant spatial scales. We evaluated the potential role of NDVI-related phenology metrics in nest-site selection by lesser prairie-chickens. Using cloud-free Landsat 8 scenes and yearly MODIS Aqua phenology scenes, snapshot NDVI estimates and yearly phenology estimates were derived at >70 lesser prairie-chicken nest locations and two paired random points at two study sites in Kansas. Using an information theoretic approach, we fit multiple resource selection functions based on NDVI and related phenology metrics to predict nest site selection.  Based on AICc, none of our candidate models outperformed the null model, and none of the phenological relationships were informative predictors. Preliminary results suggest that phenology metrics alone may not be a reliable predictor of lesser prairie-chicken nest-site selection. This may be due to the resolution of the phenometric images, limiting landscape features such as avoidance of anthropogenic and woody features, or other hierarchical processes. Hereafter, we plan to evaluate the influence of NDVI and NDVI-based phenology metrics on lesser prairie-chicken brood habitat.
Male Eastern Wild Turkey Survival in Delaware – SRIP
Drake Hardman, Angela Holland, Jacob Haus, Joseph Rogerson, Jacob Bowman
Knowledge of the population dynamics for Eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) males provides managers with data to set harvest quotas. Although state agencies can estimate or track the number of birds harvested each year, the actual proportion of the population that is harvested remains unknown.  Additionally, the amount of mortality experienced throughout the year outside of hunting season is unknown and could have an impact on harvest quotas. Our objective is to determine the survival rates of adult and juvenile wild turkeys throughout the year in Delaware. We monitored 36 juvenile male wild turkeys and 27 adult males in 2019, 29 juveniles and 24 adults in 2020, and 18 juveniles and 39 adults in 2021 on both public and private property in Delaware. We fitted all males with remote-download GPS transmitters and 2 rivet style leg bands (1 on each leg). Transmitters had an 8-hour mortality switch and we checked birds weekly to download location data. We will use a Kaplan-Meier procedure to estimate survival rates and compare survival between age classes using a log-rank test. We will compare estimated survival rates to harvest rates calculated from band returns to determine if it is a viable method for estimating harvest rates during the spring.  Survival data will also allow us to determine if hunters are selectively harvesting birds based on age class, and if adults or juveniles are more susceptible to sources of mortality beyond hunting. This research will help managers better inform their harvest management, while ensuring that future generations can view and hunt wild turkeys.
Landowner Preference for Northern Bobwhite Quail Management on Private Lands – SRIP
Nicole Nimlos
Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) populations continue to decline rapidly in Georgia and throughout the entire United States. These declines are due to largescale habitat degradation and silvicultural systems that maximize basal area for timber harvest. Bobwhite populations rely on private land for habitat. Engaging landowners and managers in restoration and management of bobwhite habitat is essential in the birds’ persistence on private lands. While state agencies and quail conservation groups can develop and recommend quail habitat management plans, ultimately it is the decision of private landowners if they want to restore quail habitat on their property. Thus, this research focuses on targeting landowners of largescale, commercial properties in Georgia and the southeast region of the United States. I will estimate the costs of bobwhite management to better understand barriers to engaging private landowners in wildlife management. Further, I will investigate landowners’ and their respective land managers’ financial and non-financial motivations for quail management, as well as their concerns about introducing quail on their land. Data will be analyzed both qualitatively and quantitively. First, I will collect landowners’ current operating budgets through semi-structured interviews with assistance from Tall Timbers Land Conservancy and Research Station. Second, I will administer a survey to private landowners and managers. This research will provide cost estimates of bobwhite habitat management and improve understanding of landowners’ and managers’ objectives and incentives for quail management. Current literature fails to acknowledge the associated economic costs of bobwhite management on different landscape types and disparities between landowners and land managers in their reasons for quail management.
Use of Snapshot Wisconsin Images to Predict Fall Harvest Demographics of Eastern Wild Turkeys – SRIP
Hayden Walkush, Hannah Butkiewicz, Shelby Truckenbrod, Jason Riddle, Jennifer Stenglein, Chris Pollentier
Wisconsin’s eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallapavo silvestris) population has flourished since the species’ reintroduction in the 1970s. Despite the success, Wisconsin and other Midwestern states have experienced a decline in spring and fall harvest since the region’s peak in the 2000s. Our research objective is to determine if a relationship exists between male-to-female ratios of Snapshot Wisconsin triggers and fall harvest male-to-female ratios. Additionally, we are interested in the relationship between the number of male and female triggers from each year and the number of harvested individuals. Harvest data (2016-2020), provided by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), and Snapshot Wisconsin’s archive of turkey photos will be used to achieve these objectives. Over 270,000 photos of adult wild turkeys have been classified by sex to estimate ratios. Regression modeling will be used to determine whether correlations exist. We hypothesize that yearly harvest demographics are positively related to the male-to-female ratios assessed through the photos. If our predictions are supported, Snapshot Wisconsin population demographic estimates could be used to predict population trajectories and inform the state’s hunting management decisions.
Environmental Factors Influencing Detection Probability of Ring-Necked Pheasants and Northern Bobwhite during August Roadside Surveys – SRIP
Zachary Dienes, Adam Janke
Monitoring populations is a critical aspect of managing harvested wildlife populations. The August roadside survey is a population index used to monitor statewide trends in productivity and overall population status for ring-necked pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) and northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) in many states. Roadside surveys are used additionally for formulating hunting season regulations and forecasting fall hunting conditions. Historical estimates of inter-annual population index changes from roadside surveys have observed biologically implausible changes, indicating survey bias and limiting the utility of the index. Although past work has shown correlative patterns in ring-necked pheasants and northern bobwhite detections along survey routes, a range-wide rigorous assessment of factors influencing detection has never been considered. We sought to evaluate factors influencing detection probability of ring-necked pheasants and northern bobwhites across the species range where August roadsides surveys are an important part of state monitoring efforts and to provide guidance on survey design. Roadside surveys were conducted on 87 routes across 10 states during 2020 and are expected to be replicated in 2021. We used an N-mixture model in a Bayesian framework to model detection probability as a function of environmental covariates and interpret these patterns in light of considerations for survey design and efficacy. This study will further help to improve the accuracy of inter-state and inter-annual roadside estimate comparisons.

Location: Virtual Date: November 3, 2021 Time: 11:00 am - 12:00 pm