Survival and nest site characteristics of translocated mountain quail on Steens Mountain, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/p2677054x

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  • Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) populations have declined in the eastern portion of their range during the last century. However, few studies have investigated the nesting habitat and survival of Mountain Quail translocated into an area from which they have been extirpated. We translocated 217 wild Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) from southwestern Oregon to Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon to re-establish a population in this former part of their range. We measured habitat characteristics at 45 nest sites and 90 random sites to identify which habitat characteristics are important in Mountain Quail nest site selection. We found that canopy cover of shrubs, trees, and rocks, and shrub height 8 m from the nest were the 2 most important characteristics influencing Mountain Quail nest-site selection. Mean shrub height at nest sites was approximately 1 m tall and mean canopy cover was 28%. Managing habitat for shrubs of this height and a similar density of canopy cover will increase habitat suitable for Mountain Quail reproduction. When selecting future release sites, shrub height and canopy cover should be of primary consideration. In addition to determining what habitat attributes Mountain Quail select for nesting, we also estimated survival rates for 135 radio-collared Mountain Quail for the 5-month period following translocation and looked at the effects of year, sex, time, linear and quadratic time trends, body condition, and weather covariates to see if they explained variation in survival rates. Year, sex, and a quadratic time trend were the most important factors explaining variation in survival in this study. Survival was higher in 2005 than 2006 and was higher for females in both years of the study. Survival was lowest during the first 2 weeks after the release suggesting that improving survival during this initial time period may improve overall chances of a successful translocation. Selecting release sites that provide adequate cover from raptors and other predators may be critical for survival of Mountain Quail following a translocation.
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