Conservation & Management Challenges:
Habitat fragmentation is considered to be a leading cause that is responsible for the long-term population declines of Northern Bobwhites. There are numerous factors responsible for habitat fragmentation such as expanding suburbanization, intensification of agricultural and forestry practices, and invasions of exotic plants; the unifying theme is how people use land for settlement and the production of food and fiber. As patches of habitat become smaller and more isolated, populations experience a lower probability of persistence that results in local extinctions, which can lead to larger and perhaps even regional extinctions. However, we lack a strong empirical and quantified basis that describes the numerical relationships between population trajectories and persistence of iconic species such as the bobwhite and how land use and land cover has changed during the past four decades.
This research project examines how the abundance of Northern Bobwhite populations is related to land cover and land use changes across Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana during the past four decades. To achieve this goal the project identified regions where bobwhite have declined rangewide, quantified (a) population trends for those regions using breeding bird survey data and (b) changes in land use over the same time period. In addition, both Landsat data and aerial photography were used to characterize the habitat patch size and connectivity within the regions as well as vegetation suitable for bobwhite. Finally, economic growth projections were used to predict potential future impacts on Northern Bobwhite populations as well as opportunities for habitat conservation and restoration.
VIEW THE RECORDED WEBINAR, Held Wednesday, September 7, 2016 on the GCP LCC YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6xtV1iPEa8&feature=youtu.be
Leonard Brennan, Ph.D., C.C. "Charlie" Winn Endowed Chair for Quail Research, Research Scientist and Professor, Texas A&M University – Kingsville.
Dr. Brennan’s primary research interests pertain to habitat and population ecology of wild quail in Texas and developing a scientific basis for their management and conservation. He is conducting specific research projects on impacts of invasive exotic grasses, various brush management and grassland habitat restoration techniques, relationships between habitat structure and quail population productivity, understanding the predator context in which quail nest in South Texas, as well as the genetic ecology of bobwhites across the Texas landscape and their geographic range.
Humberto Perotto-Baldivieso, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University - Kingsville
Dr. Perotto-Baldivieso’s interests are landscape ecology, biodiversity and bioinformatics. His research focuses on the role of spatial patterns and processes as related to ecosystem functions and ecosystem services at multiple scales and the development of data infrastructure for the distribution of spatial data in the areas of conservation and management of natural resources. Humberto’s research focuses on improving the understanding of how processes (e.g. human activities, grazing behavior) interact with spatial patterns (e.g. vegetation, soils, and land use) and consequently affect ecosystem function.