Texas Tech Quail Conservation Effort Takes Wing
September 25, 2009
The Quail-Tech Alliance and Texas Tech University have designated a 38-county research
In an effort to stem the decline of Bobwhite Quail and Scaled Quail in Texas, the
Quail-Tech Alliance and Texas Tech University have designated a 38-county research
area in west central and northwest Texas, an area that encompasses more than 22 million
acres or roughly 10 times the size of Yellowstone National Park.
Within each of the counties, one ranch will be designated as an anchor ranch to serve
as a field research or demonstration site for five years. Each of the anchor ranches
will host a specific research or demonstration project during one year of the five-year
“This five-year initiative will produce one of the largest collections of quail data
ever generated in a program of this kind,” said Charles Hodges, one of the founders
of the Quail-Tech Alliance. Among the historic ranches already on the list are the
Pitchfork Ranch, W. T. Waggoner Ranch, Mill Iron Ranch in Collingsworth County, George
Allen’s Circle A in Archer County, and Phil Guitar’s Grissom Ranch in Callahan County.
“We plan to use cutting-edge science to attack the problem of quail decline,” said
Brad Dabbert, research project director and associate chairman of Texas Tech’s Department
of Natural Resources Management, voicing the need for a much better understanding
of the multiple factors that influence quail population growth.
“Our goal is to increase the acreage of suitable quail habitat throughout the region,”
he said. Quail numbers across the state are down, primarily because of disappearing
habitat and land fragmentation.
Dabbert said the broad research area was specifically designed to study multiple areas
with diverse weather patterns and habitat characteristics. And by working with the
ranchers to develop customized research projects, the needs of the individual ranch
operations will be better served.
The Quail-Tech Alliance will conduct research and demonstration projects on an array
of topics, including:
• Investigating the potential benefits or detriments of supplemental feeding
• Understanding the factors that influence over-winter survival of adults and summer-to-fall
survival of the brood
• Refining the way prescribed burning, brush modification and livestock grazing are
used as tools of habitat management.
Separately, research results will be relayed to each anchor ranch immediately, and
a “Quail Management Manual” is scheduled to be printed at the end of each 5-year project
The research program begins Jan. 1, though the group indicated that it will be enlisting
ranches and personnel this fall. As part of the project, several Texas Tech doctoral,
masters and undergraduate students will be employed.
“This project provides a very exciting opportunity to study the decline of bobwhite
and blue quail populations and their habitat requirements,” said Ron Sosebee, a professor
emeritus with Texas Tech’s Department of Natural Resources Management. “The diverse
environmental conditions throughout the Rolling Plains of Texas provide excellent
conditions for detailed field research and demonstration projects.”
At the end of the multi-year project, the Texas Tech researchers hope to have a greater
handle on ways to increase and sustain quail populations. “The opportunity to increase
quail populations and improve their habitat is exciting and has great promise,” Sosebee
The Quail-Tech Alliance is a partnership between Texas Tech’s natural resources management
department and Quail First, a non-profit organization that has a founding board of
six members and an advisory board which is still being formed.
CONTACT: Brad Dabbert, associate professor, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas
(806) 742-2842 or firstname.lastname@example.org