Fiscal Year: 2013
35 Texas A&M University-Kingsville (20704)
Principal Investigator: Fulbright, T.
Total Amount of Contract, Award, or Gift (Annual before 2011): $ 349,199
Exceeds $250,000 (Is it flagged?): Yes
Start and End Dates: 3/11/13 <> 12/31/13
Restricted Research: YES
Academic Discipline: Agricultural Sciences
Department, Center, School, or Institute: College of Agriculture
Title of Contract, Award, or Gift: Quail Habitat Restoration on the Hixon Ranch
Name of Granting or Contracting Agency/Entity:
George C. "Tim" Hixon
Program Title: none
The ability of Texas rangelands to support diverse and abundant wildlife may depend on our ability to restore habitat where it has been depleted or destroyed due to cropland, invasion of exotic plans, and mining activities. Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginanus) and scaled quail (Calipepla squamata) are declining throughout their range in part because of the loss of habitat. Methods for establishing native plants have been well researched, but most of this work has been conducted on small lots over short time frames. Quality and suitability of restored habitats for wildlife are virtually unknown. To date large scale (more than 5 acres) habitat restoration projects have not been conducted in the south-central United States. Therefore, there is a gap in our knowledge of how long large scale restoration with native plants affects wildlife. This lack of knowledge impedes our ability to convince landowners and the general public that restoration with native plants is important because we can only speculate about how restoration areas of South Texas are being bared of vegetation by oil field development and associated activities and because exotic grasses such a buffelgrass continue to invade and dominate formerly native rangeland, resulting in further loss of quality habitat. A comprehensive, large scale research project is needed to determine the value of restoration plantings for quail. Specific objectives include: 1) select large scale (more than 300 acres) restoration plantings with a mixture of native forbs, grasses, and subshrubs; 2) if quail populations increase in restored areas; 3) rate and patterns of reinvasion by exotic grasses; and 3) patterns of native plant establishment. There will be species counts via leg bands on 40 bobwhites to determine forage and nesting areas in restored vegetation compared to areas dominated by exotic grasses. Call counts will be conducted with quail species in restored vegetation and similarly to exotic native plant communities to determine if populations increase. Project Deliverables: 1) South Texas Natives will product, process, and test seeds and provide technical assistance; 2) Ability to determine if restoration of habitat results in increased bobwhite populations; 3) Ability to determine if bobwhites use restored habitats more than areas that have not been restored; and 4) Finding out if restoration increases the amount of the land area bobwhites can use as habitat.
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