By Garrett Roberts, AQP Research Technician/Graduate Student, originally published in the Summer 2022 edition of Quail Call.
Male contribution to reproductive output and its importance to population recovery and persistence in bobwhite quail is an understudied topic commonly overlooked in research. We know already that males tend to contribute more to total reproductive output in lower density/recovering populations, but what we don’t understand as well, is how much and when they contribute under other circumstances. Bobwhite quail exhibit a form of mating strategy known as ambisexual polygamy.
This is where both the male and female will contribute to parental care, both during incubation and after hatching. Both sexes will also have multiple mates throughout the summer breeding season.
Females are generally the targeted sex studied during this time, resulting in minimal return data for the male bobwhites throughout the season. The aim for this study is to analyze the variability of male contribution over time and between bobwhite populations on the primary study site of the Albany Quail Project, Tall Timbers, Livingston Place, The Jones Center at Ichauway, and Central Florida. All of these study sites have varying spring breeding densities, possibly resulting in varying levels of male contribution.
Starting this year, we have begun increasing our sample size of radio-tagged males on all study areas to gain a better understanding of their relative contribution to reproductive output. This data is being used for a master’s project for the current research technician and new graduate student of the Albany Quail Project, Garrett Roberts. Garrett is a North Alabama transplant, graduate of Auburn University, and has been with AQP for the past year.
This project will be ongoing for the next several years with the intent of determining how male contribution varies on sites with different densities and varying seasonal survivals. This valuable insight should show just how big of a role males play in the success of reproduction and the overall growth of the population.