Water Development and Gambel’s Quail in the Mojave Desert
Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) occur in the American southwest including some parts of southern Utah. These birds are a native species of some concern in Utah given limited range and recent severe changes to their habitat due to increased fire frequency. In addition, Gambel’s quail are a focal species in the current and ongoing controversy surrounding wildlife water developments. Construction of wildlife water developments specifically for quail began as early as the 1940’s and has continued to the present. Water developments capture rain or snowmelt, store it, and provide access to water for wildlife during dry periods of the year. There are at least fifteen of these structures in and around the Lytle Ranch Preserve that, at least in part, are designed to benefit quail. Our goal over the next few years will be to assess the effects of wildlife water developments on Gambel’s quail and to determine the influence of recent severe fires on habitat use and selection. This work will be done in conjunction with broad-based sampling of water resource use across Utah. Results are expected to provide management agencies with important information related to the conservation of Gambel’s quail and the impact of wildlife water developments. This project is funded by the Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources with logistical support by the Bean Life Science Museum’s Lytle Ranch Preserve. Dr. Randy Larsen, a faculty member in the Plant and Wildlife Sciences Department (College of Life Sciences), is the principal investigator for this research project.