Elevated parasite burdens as a potential mechanism affecting northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) population dynamics in the Rolling Plains of West Texas
- 116 Downloads
Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) are a highly sought-after game bird in the Rolling Plains of West Texas. Unfortunately, bobwhite populations in this area are subject to dramatic fluctuations and have been steadily decreasing over the past several decades. While many factors have been investigated as potential mechanisms of cyclic and declining bobwhite numbers, the effect of parasites on bobwhite populations has historically been undervalued. Between December 2017 and February 2018, we received 21 hunter-shot bobwhite from Garza and Mitchell counties in Texas and found peak caecal worm (Aulonocephalus pennula) and eyeworm (Oxyspirura petrowi) burdens averaging 599 and 44, respectively. These represent the highest average parasite loads we have documented in bobwhite from the Rolling Plains thus far and are coincident with widespread reports of declining bobwhite abundance. These elevated infections also followed a high point in bobwhite populations in the Rolling Plains, and our observations of infection dynamics during this time reflect other instances of potential parasite-induced host mortality. While the sample discussed in this communication is small, our findings highlight the need for additional research into how parasites may affect bobwhite population fluctuations in this region.
KeywordsColinus virginianus Northern bobwhite quail Parasites Rolling Plains West Texas
We thank the hunters that donate bobwhite to the Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory for their dedication and continued involvement in advancing this research.
This research received funding and support from Park Cities Quail and the Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation.
Compliance with ethical standards
All hunter-donated quail carcasses were handled according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Research Permit No. SPR-0715-095.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.
- Addison EM, Anderson RC (1969) A review of eyeworms of the genus Oxyspirura (Nematoda: Spiruroidea). Wildl Dis Assoc 55:1–58Google Scholar
- Brennan LA (1991) How can we reverse the northern bobwhite population decline? Wildl Soc Bull 19:544–555Google Scholar
- Brennan LA (2002) Closing remarks: pieces of the puzzle, circles in the stream. Proc Natl Quail Symp 5:54Google Scholar
- Bruno A (2014) Survey for Trichomonas gallinae and assessment of helminth parasites in northern bobwhites from the Rolling Plains ecoregion. Thesis, Texas A&M University-KingsvilleGoogle Scholar
- Brym MZ, Henry C, Kendall RJ (2018) Potential parasite induced host mortality in northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) from the Rolling Plains ecoregion of West Texas. Arch Parasitol 2:115Google Scholar
- Guthery FS (2002) The technology of bobwhite management: the theory behind the practice. Iowa State Press, AmesGoogle Scholar
- Henry C, Brym MZ, Kendall RJ (2017) Oxyspirura petrowi and Aulonocephalus pennula infection in wild northern bobwhite quail in the Rolling Plains ecoregion, Texas: possible evidence of a die-off. Arch Parasitol 1:109Google Scholar
- Henry C, Brym MZ, Kalyanasundaram A, Kendall RJ (2018) Molecular identification of potential intermediate hosts of Aulonocephalus pennula from the order Orthoptera. J Helminthol. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022149X18000111
- Jackson AS (1969) Quail management handbook for West Texas Rolling Plains. Bulletin Number 48. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, AustinGoogle Scholar
- Jackson AS, Green H (1965) Dynamics of bobwhite quail in the west Texas Rolling Plains: parasitism in bobwhite quail. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Federal Aid Project No. W-88-R-4, Austin, TexasGoogle Scholar
- Johnson JL, Rollins D, Reyna KS (2012) What’s a quail worth? A longitudinal assessment of quail hunter demographics, attitudes, and spending habits in Texas. Proc Natl Quail Symp 7:294–299Google Scholar
- Kistler WM, Hock S, Hernout B, Brake E, Williams N, Downing C, Dunham NR, Kumar N, Turaga U, Parlos JA, Kendall RJ (2016) Plains lubber grasshopper (Brachystola magna) as a potential intermediate host for Oxyspirura petrowi in northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus). Parasitol Open 2. https://doi.org/10.1017/pao.2016.5
- Lehmann VW (1984) Bobwhites in the Rio Grande plain of Texas. Texas A&M University Press, College StationGoogle Scholar
- McCallum H (2000) Host-pathogen and host-parasite models. In: Lawton JH Likens GE (eds) Population parameters: estimation for ecological models. Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford, pp 284–312Google Scholar
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2016) National temperature and precipitation maps. https://www.ncdc.NationalOceanicandAtmosphericAdministration.gov/temp-and-precip/us-maps/. Accessed 16 Feb 2018
- Peterson MJ (2007) Diseases and parasites of Texas quails. In: Brennan LA (ed) Texas quails: ecology and management. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, pp 89–114Google Scholar
- Robel RJ (1993) Symposium wrap-up: what is missing? Proc Natl Quail Symp 3:22Google Scholar
- Rollins D (1980) Comparative ecology of bobwhite and scaled quail in mesquite grassland habitats. Thesis, Oklahoma State UniversityGoogle Scholar
- Rollins D (2007) Quails on the Rolling Plains. In: Brennan LA (ed) Texas quails: ecology and management. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, pp 117–141Google Scholar
- Ruff MD (1984) Nematodes and acanthocephalans. In: Hofstad MS, Calnek BW, Helmboldt CF, Reid WM, Yoder Jr HW (eds) Diseases of poultry, 8th edn. Iowa State University Press, Ames, pp 614–648Google Scholar
- Scott TG (1985) Bobwhite thesaurus. International Quail Foundation, EdgefieldGoogle Scholar
- Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (2017) Bobwhite and scaled quail in the Rolling Plains quail forecast 2017–18. https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/planning/quail_forecast/forecast/rolling_plains/. Accessed 16 February 2018
- Villarreal SM, Fedynich AM, Brennan LA, Rollins D (2012) Parasitic eyeworm (Oxyspirura petrowi) in northern bobwhites from the Rolling Plains of Texas, 2007-2011. Proc Natl Quail Symp 7:241–243Google Scholar