Evaluation of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) population monitoring methods and population trends in agricultural systems in the Upper Coastal Plain of Georgia
Hamrick, Richard Graydon
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Declining northern bobwhite Colinus virginianus (bobwhite) populations in Georgia led to the development of the Bobwhite Quail Initiative (BQI), a state-funded pilot project aimed at increasing bobwhite habitat in agricultural systems. Bobwhite populations were monitored at BQI managed (treatment) and non-managed (control) sites using autumn covey-call-count indices, 1999-2001. Call-count observer detection rates, utility of several call-count methods, and bobwhite population response to BQI management were evaluated. Capture-recapture models suggested that observer detection rates of calling coveys did not differ among years or sites. Regression analyses suggested that single-observer point counts provided a more efficient means of estimating covey density compared to multi-observer call-count methods. Several different analyses suggested that mean covey numbers increased at treatment sites and declined at control sites. Call-count indices appear to be adequate estimators of autumn population trends when observer detection rates are quantified. Monitoring results suggest that BQI habitat management is positively affecting bobwhite populations.