Response of bobwhites to habitat management in the Rolling Plains of Texas



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Texas Tech University


Effects of habitat management on bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) were studied from June 1978 through May 1980 in mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and sand shinnery oak (Quercus havardii) communities. Management in the mesquite community included spring disking of strips, half-cutting mesquite, and construction of "teepee" style brush piles and livestock exclosures which contained a brush pile. Strips were disked in 2 4-ha exclosures in the sand shinnery oak community. Disking increased (P < 0.05) canopy coverage and distribution of important seed-producing forbs in both communities. Coverage of 10 selected forbs in the mesquite area strips was increased by 171.0 and 77.1% during 1978 and 1979, respectively, while coverage of 6 selected grasses was decreased by 31.5 and 57.3%. Coverage of 9 selected forbs in the sand shinnery oak strips increased 214.0 and 728.0% during 1978 and 1979, respectively, while coverage of 6 selected grasses decreased 80.7 and 62.4%. Sand shinnery oak coverage was 84.0% lower on the disked strips during each year. Bobwhite numbers increased in the managed areas of each habitat. More birds were trapped each month in the managed areas and a large percentage were new captures, which indicated that intense management in mesquite and sand shinnery oak habitats increased ingress of bobwhites and an area's ability to support more birds, even through drought. No significant differences (P > 0.05) were detected in weights of bobwhites between managed and control areas. No definite trends existed for month-to-month survivorship but data from the mesquite areas indicated better survivorship in the managed area during both trapping seasons. Survivorship in the sand shinnery oak areas was similar during both years. Habitat improvement in the mesquite area cost $6.20 and $11.64/bird during 1978 and 1979, respectively. Costs/ha were $7.22 and $10.86 during 1978 and 1979, respectively.