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Funded Projects

Northern Bobwhite Response to Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Practices in the High Plains Ecoregion of Texas

The Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative seeks to reverse northern bobwhite declines across the specieís range. The goal for the Southern High Plains of Texas, or the Texas portion of the Shortgrass Prairie Bird Conservation Region (TBCR18) as it is delineated in the initiative, is to add 18,933 new coveys to those already in existence. Regrettably, cotton, the primary crop in the region, uses a cropping system that precludes bobwhite habitat. Rangeland provides the most usable habitat for quail in the TBCR18. However, much of the rangeland that would be considered suitable habitat has been overgrazed to the point it is no longer usable. New incentives could change the dynamics in TBCR18.

In Texas, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) holds promise for management practices that are beneficial to bobwhite. The primary wildlife species of concern for the TBCR18 are the lesser prairie chicken and the black-tailed prairie dog. Prescribed grazing, brush management, and prescribed burning are eligible practices for EQIP in this area. These practices may also be beneficial for developing bobwhite habitat in the region. The potential benefits of EQIP projects on bobwhite in TBCR18 have not been evaluated. Therefore, my objective is to examine bobwhite population responses to the 3 EQIP practices eligible in TBCR18. I will use September roadside surveys, October covey surveys, and spring call surveys as indices of bobwhite populations and compare these indices among 4 treatment groups. Treatment groups will include (1) prescribed burn application and enrollment in EQIP, (2) prescribed grazing system and enrollment in EQIP, (3) brush management and enrollment in EQIP, and (4) no management application for wildlife (control). Additionally, each study site will be mapped using DOQQ imagery with each replicate incorporated into a GIS database. Geospatial analysis of landscape features will aid in identification of future EQIP project sites.

Charles B. Dabbert
Department of Range, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79409

Phone: (806) 742-1983
Email: Brad.dabbert@ttu.edu

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