National Quail Symposium Proceedings


An extensive amount of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) habitat for northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) has been lost to planting of tall fescue (Schedonorus phoenix). We conducted foraging trials using human-imprinted bobwhite chicks (n 1⁄4 288) and collected terrestrial arthropods using a customized yard vacuum to assess the effects of 3 USDA mid-contract management (MCM) cost-share practices on chick foraging rates and arthropod prey selection in 36 tall fescue-dominated CRP fields in Illinois during 2008. We applied fall strip disking, fall glyphosate spraying, and fall glyphosate spraying followed by spring legume interseeding in alternating strips to 33% of each treatment field on a 3-year rotation. Glyphosate and glyphosate-interseeding treatments provided greater brood habitat benefits for bobwhite chicks than disking and control fields. Chicks consumed a greater abundance (P , 0.0001) and biomass (P 1⁄4 0.0017) of arthropods in managed fields than in unmanaged fields. Abundance and biomass of arthropods consumed by chicks were higher in glyphosate and glyphosate-interseeded strips with 1-, 2-, and 3-growing seasons post-treatment, but disking only provided this benefit for 1 growing season. Vacuum sampling provided a poor index of the availability of arthropods to bobwhite chicks, as measured by foraging of imprinted chicks. Vacuum sampling indicated arthropod abundance was greater in unmanaged than in managed fields (P 1⁄4 0.170). Custom vacuums are not an appropriate tool for measuring the abundance of arthropods important to bobwhite chicks in tall fescue CRP. Fall strip disking is an inferior MCM practice to glyphosate-based treatments in tall fescue- dominated CRP.