Date of Award
Master of Science
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Ralph W. Dimmick
David A. Beuhler, David A. Etnier
The effects and feasibility of relocating wild northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) quail into managed quail habitat in middle Tennessee were studied on the Maddox farm located in the southeastern portion of Houston County, Tennessee. Data were collected during portions of 2 years beginning in January 1994, and ending in March 1996. The major objectives of the study were to evaluate the effects relocated wild bobwhites might have on an existing resident quail population, and to determine the feasibility of relocating quail wild quail as a potential management tool. Study objectives were accomplished by obtaining data necessary to compare resident and relocated quail survival, home ranges, reproductive effort, to estimate the change in quail and covey densities on the release area, and to provide an estimate of the cost associated with trapping and relocating wild bobwhites. Data were collected from a sample of 44 resident and 26 relocated quail that were radio-marked and released on the experimental area during the study. Analysis of radio telemetry data indicated there was no difference in spring and summer survival of resident (57%, SE 22%) and relocated (64%, SE 25%) quail. Relocated quail assimilated quickly into the resident population, with 95% of the relocated quail joining resident coveys, on average, in 3.7 days in 1994, and 1.2 days in 1995. Relocated quail remained on the study area (96% over both years). Resident and relocated quail home ranges did not differ (P > 0.05) in all cases except the spring of 1994. The mean home range of resident quail during spring 1994 was 4.49 ha, while that of relocated quail was 8.09 ha (P < 0.005). Summer 1994 home ranges were 6.57 ha for residents and 8.33 ha for relocated quail. In 1995, home range during spring was 7.39 ha for residents and 7.49 ha for relocated quail. Finally, during summer 1995, resident home range was 4.21 ha and relocated quail home range was 5.64 ha. During both years of the study, quail nest of 8 resident and 5 relocated quail were found. Standard and Mayfield method probabilities that an incubated egg would hatch for both years of the study were similar at 53.7% and 69.1% for residents, and 59.3% and 68.8% for relocated birds. Clutch sizes averaged over both years were 10.1 eggs for residents, and 12.4 eggs for relocated quail. Egg hatching rates for both years were 96.7% for resident birds and 95.8% for relocated quail. Walking flush censuses of the control and experimental areas throughout the study failed to demonstrate the relocated bobwhites has a positive effect on quail density. Census results indicated a 100% increase in quail density and 25% increase in covey density on the control area, and a 50% increase in quail density and 57% increase in covey density on the experimental area when compared to pre-release densities. Relocation cost was high, requiring an average of 144.2 trap days and 25.1 man hours to capture and transport each relocated quail from the source trapping areas. Results of this study, specifically fidelity to the release site and reproduction of relocated quail, indicate that relocating wild bobwhites may be of potential use to quail manages in middle Tennessee, provided the cost of relocating the birds can be greatly reduced through more successful trapping on source areas.
Jones, Jeffrey G., "Effects of Relocating Wild Northern Bobwhites into Managed Quail Habitat in Middle Tennessee. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 1999.