Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianius) populations have been declining in Texas during the last several decades. This decline is particularly disconcerting given populations are decreasing in areas with apparently ample habitat such as the Rolling Plains of Texas. Therefore, the goal of this study was to examine the efficacy of translocating wild-trapped bobwhites into recently depopulated habitat in the eastern Rolling Plains as a method of augmenting population size. Specifically, the objectives of this study were to 1) document survival (spring-summer and annual), site fidelity, and reproductive efforts of bobwhites translocated to 2 release sites and 2) compare relative abundance of bobwhites on the 2 release sites and 1 control site (received no translocation bobwhites) to evaluate the efficacy of translocation. I translocated 409 wild bobwhites to Shackelford and Stephens counties, Texas, during 2013–2014. Of these, 186 females were radio-tracked to monitor survival, site fidelity, and reproductive effort. Spring-summer (Mar–Sep) survival averaged 0.35 (n = 186 bobwhites), and annual survival averaged 0.23 (n = 186 bobwhites) during 2013–2015. Seventy-four percent (n = 112 bobwhites) of translocated females that entered the nesting season (i.e., May 1) produced a nest, which resulted in a total of 125 nests during 2013–2014. On average, nest success was 46.1%, and females nested at a rate of 1.1 nests/female. Twenty-one (32.3%) and 7 (14.8%) translocated bobwhites dispersed >2 km from their release point during the summer of 2013 and 2014, respectively. Relative abundance estimates of bobwhites increased similarly over time at the release sites and the control site; thus, translocation of bobwhites failed to increase the bobwhite population beyond that of our control. Assuming there is no “latent increase” (i.e., to be observed in a future time), translocation as implemented in this study may not be a viable technique to augment bobwhite population size in the Rolling Plains of Texas, but alterations to the methods (e.g. release method) may yield more positive results relative to a population increase.
January 27, 2016
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