Quail Ecology and Management Project Report for January 2020
Provided by Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University
The project team spent the first three weeks of January trapping at Cross Timbers Wildlife Management Area and were able to deploy six transmitters before having to move out due to a propane leak. The last week of January was spent trapping at Sandy Sanders WMA.
Due to surprisingly low trapping success at Cross Timbers and high quail mortality, the number of birds transmitting continued to drop during January. During the month, a total of six GPS transmitters were active across the four WMAs, with all six deployed at Cross Timbers. All transmitters were of the type with satellite-download.
In total, the project has collected 43,787 individual locations since the launch of the first transmitter in July 2018. The team took delivery of 21 new transmitters in January. The new transmitters feature an improved casing design and more durable antennas.
The 12 wildlife cameras positioned on research plots at each of the four WMAs continue to record wildlife use at each treatment plot. Across all four WMAs, the cameras captured 61 images of wildlife during January, with 46 images of white-tailed deer, eight of coyotes, two of common grackles, two of unidentified animals, and one of a crow. Since the wildlife cameras were put up at research plots, they have captured 77 photos of wildlife at growing-season burn plots, 32 at control (no-burn) plots, and 11 at dormant-season burn plots across the four WMAs. Preliminary analyses of bird survey data and vegetation data, as well as movement data from the GPS transmitters, continued during January.
In the invertebrate research, student workers have counted, identified and measured invertebrates from 380 of the 480 pitfall trap samples. Arthropod community composition data for May and June has been entered and organized, and now will be analyzed using multivariate methods. The lipid and exoskeleton content of 96 morphospecies of potential arthropod prey of quail has been analyzed. Preliminary results suggest that there is wide variation in the nutritional quality of potential arthropod prey of quail.
In particular, it appears that digestible lean tissue and exoskeleton content are inversely related. Digestible lean tissue is the part of the arthropod body that is not fat or exoskeleton. In coming months, this lean tissue will be analyzed to measure how much protein it provides. Preliminary data suggest that spiders (aranea), beetle (coleoptera) larvae, grasshoppers/crickets (orthoptera) and caterpillars (lepidoptera) are relatively high-quality prey species, and that woodlice (isopods), ants (hymenoptera) and adult beetles are lower-quality prey.
Digestible lean content, exoskeleton content, and fat (lipid) content for seven invertebrate orders. Digestible lean content is the part that is not fat or exoskeleton. Note that Coleoptera (beetle) larvae are presented separately from adults, and all Lepidopterans (butterflies/moths) presented are larvae (caterpillars). Boxes with different letters are significantly different.
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(This project is funded in part by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Federal Aid Project F18AF001-10: Quail Ecology and Management II.)