January 29, 2015
The Texas Tech-led research is the largest quail disease study ever undertaken in the United States.
The Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory at Texas Tech University received a $305,171 award from Park Cities Quail to continue research on the impact of eyeworm infections in wild bobwhite quail in the Rolling Plains of West Texas.
The laboratory already has received more than $1.6 million from the Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation, Park Cities Quail and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to discover what is causing northern bobwhite populations to decline.
Ronald J. Kendall, professor of environmental toxicology at Texas Tech, announced in August that an eyeworm (Oxispirura petrowi), which is a parasitic nematode, was a probable cause of the quail decline in the Rolling Plains, particularly since 2000. In 2011, his lab joined Operation Idiopathic Decline, which is the largest quail disease research project ever conducted in the United States.
“Without the support of organizations such as Park Cities Quail, we would have not been able to make the progress we have to evaluate the degree of infection of parasites in wild bobwhite quail and what we can do about it in a reasonable, strategic and scientifically based way,” Kendall said. “This new Park Cities Quail grant will dramatically enhance our field research data on wild quail populations that receive a treatment so we can determine their survivability, reproduction and health outcomes.”
The research funding from Park Cities Quail will allow implementation of a bobwhite quail population assessment when the quail receive a treatment for parasite control. This grant provides a database for the ultimate development of a treatment for parasite infections in wild bobwhite quail, including the eyeworm and the cecal worm.
Throughout the Rolling Plains, Kendall and others found a significant infection rate with the birds they trapped.
“The Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory has provided us detailed insight into how the money we have raised and contributed for research is being used and applied,” said Joe Bob Shirley, Park Cities Quail board member. “Research being done at the Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory is very promising with respect to what may be the cause of the quail decline. They are fast-tracking their studies on a method that may provide a solution, and we are hopeful that we will have a strategy to combat quail decline in the Rolling Plains.”
Park Cities Quail board member Matt Perry-Miller said he was satisfied with the work that researchers at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health at Texas Tech had done.
“The Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory has reaffirmed our commitment to solving the ongoing dilemma of the decline of bobwhite quail through the funding of scientific research, which is coupled with the knowledge and passion of quail enthusiasts,” he said.
To read more about the quail disease study or watch an informational video click here.
The Institute of Environmental and Human Health was created in 1997 as a joint venture between Texas Tech and the Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center to assess the impact of toxic chemicals and diseases on the
physical and human environments, including air, water, soil and animal life.
Researchers investigate elements in the environment, both those that are naturally occurring such as disease and those caused by humans, such as nuclear activity, pollution or chemical or bioterrorism, which negatively impact the environment. It is one of the few labs in the country dedicated to environmental toxicology.