NRM’s Quail-Tech receives gift to advance bobwhite research in Texas
By: Allen Ramsey
Chuck Ribelin has always enjoyed quail hunting, but a declining bobwhite quail population in Texas has prompted him to look for solutions – a way to keep a huntable population of bobwhite on the ground, where they nest, for the foreseeable future.
One of the solutions the Dallas native found is a research program led by Brad Dabbert, the Burnett Foundation Endowed Professor of Quail Ecology in Tech's Department of Natural Resources Management. Now, Ribelin has presented a major gift to ensure that Quail-Tech has the resources it needs to continue finding solutions for sustaining the bobwhite population.
“We want to put birds on the ground, and we know Dr. Dabbert can do that,” Ribelin said. “Now, we need a team around him to help.”
Ribelin's gift will help fund five-year projects across three departments in Tech's Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, with the primary funding going toward a project in the department to demonstrate the effectiveness of a Tall Timbers model to sustain huntable bobwhite populations in the Rolling Plains of Texas.
Scientists at Florida's Tall Timbers Research Station developed a set of management tools to sustain bobwhite populations at relatively high densities. Similar techniques – broadcasting supplemental feed and predator reduction – will be used by Dabbert on the north and south shinnery oak pastures on Dickens County's Pitchfork Ranch to determine which measures are most effective to sustain bobwhite populations in Texas ‘drier climate.
Specifically, the Pitchfork Ranch project will focus on bobwhite chick survival. “We're really going to focus on chick survival because that area is kind of a black box for us right now,” Dabbert said. “What are the weather effects? What predators are eating them? What habitats do they survive in better than others?”
To help build on that research, Ribelin's gift also creates two funds for related research projects:
- Chuck Ribelin Quail Ecology Public Awareness Support Fund: Provide support for a student in the Picador Creative internship program in Tech's Department of Agricultural Education & Communications to focus specifically on promoting awareness of quail ecology.
- Chuck Ribelin Economic Impact & Policy Advocacy of Quail Ecology Fund: Provide support for a graduate student in agricultural and applied economics to study economic impact and policy advocacy for quail ecology.
“This fund allows one of our agricultural communications students the opportunity to expand the skills they learned in the classroom and apply those lessons to a real situation,” said Erica Irlbeck, an agricultural communications professor and director of Picador Creative.
Meanwhile, Darren Hudson, the Larry Combest Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, added their research will seek to quantify the regional economic impact of quail hunting, and examine the impacts that increasing quail populations would have on regional economic activity.
CONTACT: Brad Dabbert, Burnett Foundation Endowed Professor of Quail Ecology, Department of Natural Resources Management, Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 834-1248 or email@example.com
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