On reversing the northern bobwhite population decline: 20 years later

Authors

  • Fidel Hernández,

    Corresponding author
    1. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 700 University Blvd., Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
    • Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 700 University Blvd., Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
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  • Leonard A. Brennan,

    1. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 700 University Blvd., Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
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  • Stephen J. DeMaso,

    1. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 700 University Blvd., Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. Gulf Coast Joint Venture, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, 700 Cajundome Boulevard, Lafayette, LA 70506, USA.
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  • Joseph P. Sands,

    1. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 700 University Blvd., Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
    Current affiliation:
    1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 NE 11th Avenue, Portland, OR 97232, USA.
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  • David B. Wester

    1. Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 700 University Blvd., Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
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  • Acting Editor: Krausman

  • Associate Editor: DeStefano

Abstract

The northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) decline has become a cause célébre of wildlife conservation during the past 2 decades. With few exceptions, current broad-scale population trends show ongoing erosion in bobwhite numbers across most of the species' range. The causes of these declines are ultimate factors exacerbated by certain proximate factors. Ultimate factors are centered on the loss and fragmentation of habitat. Proximate factors such as predation and disease also may be present. The impacts of some factors, such as climate change, remain unknown but may influence bobwhite population trajectories over the long term. Progress has occurred in bobwhite conservation efforts since 1990 and has culminated in the formation of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee and the publication of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. The vast majority of prevailing agricultural, forestry, and to some extent rangeland land uses in the United States continue as threats to bobwhite population persistence in the foreseeable future. Land-use patterns that once sustained widespread abundance of northern bobwhite during the early 20th century clearly are past and likely never to return. Landscape features that sustain and elevate northern bobwhite populations will only be maintained as a function of purposeful management actions directed at saving and creating usable space. © The Wildlife Society, 2012

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