Survival of mountain quail translocated from two distinct source populations


  • Associate Editor: Leonard Brennan


Translocation of mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus) to restore viable populations to their former range has become a common practice. Because differences in post-release vital rates between animals from multiple source populations has not been well studied, wildlife and land managers may arbitrarily choose the source population or base the source population on immediate availability when planning translocation projects. Similarly, an understanding of the optimal proportion of individuals from different age and sex classes for translocation would benefit translocation planning. During 2006 and 2007, we captured and translocated 125 mountain quail from 2 ecologically distinct areas: 38 from southern California and 87 from southwestern Oregon. We released mountain quail in the Bennett Hills of south-central Idaho. We radio-marked and monitored a subsample of 58 quail and used them for a 2-part survival analysis. Cumulative survival probability was 0.23 ± 0.05 (SE) at 150 days post-release. We first examined an a priori hypothesis (model) that survival varied between the 2 distinct source populations. We found that source population did not explain variation in survival. This result suggests that wildlife managers have flexibility in selecting source populations for mountain quail translocation efforts. In a post hoc examination, we pooled the quail across source populations and evaluated differences in survival probabilities between sex and age classes. The most parsimonious model indicated that adult male survival was substantially less than survival rates of other mountain quail age and sex classes (i.e., interaction between sex and age). This result suggests that translocation success could benefit by translocating yearling males rather than adult males, perhaps because adult male breeding behavior results in vulnerability to predators. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.