Quail Wings Donated by Hunters Provide Data on WMA Birds

During quail hunting season, wing collection boxes are placed at several wildlife management areas: Beaver River, Optima, Packsaddle, Cooper, Kaw, Drummond Flats, Canton, Fort Supply, Cross Timbers, and Pushmataha. Hunters are asked to donate a wing from each quail they harvest for research purposes. Upland Game Biologist Tell Judkins with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently created a video showing what happens to those wings, and what sort of data can be collected. Ultimately, the wings can help determine the status of the quail populations at the WMAs and can offer clues about how next year’s season might pan out. Click on the photo above to watch the video, or go to https://youtu.be/BNEtnUHPK6E.

Quail Ecology and Management Project Report for August 2020
Provided by Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University

Trapping continues at Beaver River and Packsaddle wildlife management areas. The typically low trapping success of summer combined with a shortage of transmitters resulted in just six transmitters being deployed at Beaver River and four at Packsaddle.

Nine downed transmitters were recovered during July, with five recovered from Beaver River, two from Cross Timbers, and two from Packsaddle. No clear mortality signs could be identified for five of the recovered transmitters, while two were attributed to mammalian predation, and one to unknown predation. The remaining transmitter was found lying on the ground inside one of our traps. Most likely the quail entered the trap and later found its way out but got the transmitter stuck on the funnel while exiting and pulled out of the harness.

During July, 24 GPS transmitters were active across three of the four WMAs in the study, with 12 deployed at Beaver River, two at Cross Timbers, 10 at Packsaddle, and none at Sandy Sanders. All transmitters were of the type with satellite-download. In total, 58,855 individual locations have been collected since the launch of the first transmitter in July 2018.

Concurrent with this spring’s trapping efforts, Jennifer Knutson and two survey technicians have been conducting bird and vegetation surveys on a randomized rotating schedule among the four WMAs from late May through mid-July. They completed 167 bird and vegetation surveys across the four WMAs. The planned herbicide treatment at the Sandy Sanders mesquite research plots was canceled because an aerial applicator could not be found. Two trapping technicians left the project at the end of July. One new technician was hired and started Aug. 3.

The 12 wildlife cameras positioned on the research plots at each of the four WMAs continue to record wildlife use at each plot. Preliminary analyses of bird survey data and vegetation data, as well as movement data from the GPS transmitters, continued during July.

INVERTEBRATE RESEARCH: Preparation continued on a manuscript addressing how current-year burns and strip disking affected arthropod communities at Packsaddle. All of the nutrient data for the arthropods has been collected. The data is being entered into a spreadsheet, and preliminary analyses has begun.

Early efforts are focused on one of the hypotheses of the nutritional work: Is crude protein content (nitrogen content x 6.25) an accurate measure of actual protein content (as measured by amino acid analysis)? Crude protein content has long been used as a surrogate of protein content. A preliminary analysis shows only a weak relationship (R-square = 0.08) between crude protein content and soft tissue amino acid content of arthropods. In addition, the crude protein measure seems to overestimate the amount of protein in arthropods.

These data include arthropods from six different orders. Researchers believe the lack of a strong relationship is likely because arthropod taxa differ significantly in their exoskeleton content. Exoskeleton has a significant amount of nitrogen and is indigestible to most consumers. Analysis will continue to better explore the relationship between crude protein and actual protein within and among orders of arthropods, and to test whether the protein assays (Bradford, BCA, and Lowry) are related to protein content.