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Park Cities Quail Donation Benefits BRI Scaled Quail Research Project

Borderlands Research Institute

Dr. Ryan Luna of BRI accepts a check from Park Cities Quail’s Jay Stine (left) and Clay Huffstutter (right).

The Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) has received a $75,000 donation from Park Cities Quail to support scaled quail research. The funding is supporting two graduate students who will compile and analyze scaled quail parasite loads from across the Trans-Pecos.

Scaled quail are one of the most ecologically and economically important species to the Chihuahuan Desert. Unfortunately, their geographic range and population trends are declining. BRI is focusing significant research attention on the species.

“We need more and better science to determine the cause of the decline of scaled quail in the Trans-Pecos,” said Dr. Ryan S. Luna, who is the Kelly R. Thompson Professor of Quail Research with BRI at Sul Ross State University. “We appreciate Park Cities Quail’s continued support for research projects that will help us learn more about this beloved bird.”

Recent research studies have confirmed that a parasitic eyeworm may be a factor in the population decline. Eyeworms can impair vision and cause inflammation in and around the eye. Since vision could be impaired, infected quail might not be able to fly, forage, or evade predators to the same degree as their non-infected counterparts. The study funded by Park Cities Quail will help identify regional characteristics that affect scaled quail eyeworm prevalence across the Trans-Pecos. The research will provide estimates of eyeworm prevalence in the Trans-Pecos, assess sex and age specifics of scale quail infected with eyeworms, and study and describe how eyeworm infestation rates change throughout the year.

In addition, researchers hope to identify habitat characteristics associated with areas that have greater eyeworm infestations. The public outreach associated with this project will ultimately aid in helping determine the general prevalence of eyeworms across quail species in Texas and might identify some of the factors that influence eyeworm prevalence in scaled quail. Those findings could lead to land management practices that will benefit the species in the future.

Scaled quail are one of four species of quail found in West Texas. The other species are bobwhite quail, Gambel’s quail and Montezuma quail. Since 1980, researchers have documented a 75% decline in bobwhite quail in Texas and a 66% drop in scaled quail.

“Nobody cares more about the future of quail than the members of Park Cities Quail,” said Dr. Louis Harveson, who is the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr., BRI Endowed Director and professor of Wildlife Management at Sul Ross State University. “Over the past eleven years, the organization has grown into a conservation powerhouse and has raised and donated over $6.9 million directly to quail research and conservation. BRI is fortunate to be one of their beneficiaries. Since 2013, they have donated more than $255,000 to support BRI’s Desert Quail Research Program.”