Quail Coalition Champions Innovative Montezuma Quail Research in West Texas

Thanks to support from Quail Coalition in Texas, the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University will conduct the first-ever research to determine the population of Montezuma quail in the Davis Mountains of West Texas. The research project will deploy innovative acoustic monitoring techniques, another first for BRI research efforts.

“Montezuma quail are a unique but elusive species here in West Texas, and we don’t know much about them,” said Dr. Ryan S. Luna, who is the Kelly R. Thompson Professor of Quail Research at BRI. “One of the basic research questions we need to answer is population size. We are very grateful to the Quail Coalition for funding this project and their ongoing support for quail research in West Texas.”

Quail Coalition consists of 12 local chapters across Texas that are dedicated to quail research, education and habitat improvement. This particular project will use bioacoustics technology to monitor Montezuma quail, the first time this technology has been used by BRI researchers.

“Bioacoustics is essentially the audio version of a game camera,” explained Luna. “It allows for unattended and noninvasive monitoring. Because few studies have been published on Montezuma quail, and there is no tried and true way to survey for them that yields a reliable estimate, we anticipate this will be the first study to determine a rough population estimate for Montezuma quail in Texas.”

The $152,000 project will fund research stipends for graduate students and technicians, wildlife acoustic song meters, GPS attachments for programming acoustic devices, and related software and supplies to analyze data. Three Quail Coalition chapters have provided funding this year, including $67,000 from the Park Cities chapter, $50,000 from the Permian Basin chapter, and $35,000 from the Cross Timbers Chapter.

“Thanks to the 3,000 quail hunters that make up our membership, our chapters collectively raise more than $3 million annually at fundraising dinners, with an end goal of sustaining and restoring wild quail populations for future generations,” said Quail Coalition Executive Director Jay Stine. “Quail Coalition is proud to partner with BRI on meaningful and innovative research, and the fact that three of our chapters are collaborating on this Montezuma quail research project speaks volumes about the quality of BRI’s work.”