Ronald J. Kendall's Lab

About the lab

We will be a leader in research and education integrating environmental and conservation sciences. Our laboratory will contribute innovative solutions to environmental problems by committing to excellence, embracing interdisciplinary cooperation, and creating partnerships.

Featured projects (1)

Trapping and assessing parasite burdens in wild Bobwhite quail outside of the hunting season in 2018.

Featured research (7)

Northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) are a well known game bird that has been extensively studied and managed throughout its range for many decades. Despite this, bobwhites have continued a steady annual decline across the United States, irrespective of many well established conservation practices in place to mitigate this. Supplemental feeding is one such technique that is a widely used tool in bobwhite management, but the methods and results of the studies to investigate the effectiveness of this method are highly variable. The effectiveness of supplemental feeding practices is further hindered by the limited knowledge regarding the nutritional requirements of wild bobwhite because many of the guidelines that researchers follow are based on species of Galliformes that are primarily used for production. Here, we review supplemental feeding studies, nutritional requirements of bobwhite, and discuss future directions.
The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is among the best-known insects in the world, renowned for its conspicuousness, spectacular migration, and interesting biology. Unfortunately, monarch populations have declined dramatically due, in large part, to the widespread losses of the milkweed plants which they depend upon for reproduction. This has led to concerted efforts to restore milkweed, particularly in the Midwestern US where most monarch breeding occurs. However, recently there has been a call to expand milkweed restoration across more of the monarch’s migratory distribution, with Southern states, like Texas, being emphasized. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of milkweed restoration in the Rolling Plains ecoregion of West Texas, an area with numerous reports of monarchs but relatively limited conservation initiatives. We founded milkweed colonies that included four species of milkweed in three counties across West Texas, and the establishment and growth of milkweed in these was monitored for up to four years. Generalized additive mixed-effect models were then used to assess milkweed establishment and growth as a factor of plant age, species, and location. Temporal patterns in establishment and growth were also examined. Milkweed were successfully established across all colonies and as many as 45% of some species persisted four years after being planted. Additionally, we found age (p < 0.001), species (p = 0.02), and location (p = 0.04) to be significant predictors of establishment, while species was a significant predictor of growth (p = 0.001). While more research is needed to assess the restoration of milkweed in West Texas, this is, to our knowledge, the first study to monitor milkweed over an entire season in this area and may provide valuable data to facilitate development of a regionally adapted milkweed restoration strategy.
The Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) is a popular game bird that has been experiencing a well-documented decline throughout Texas since the 1960s. While much of this decline has been attributed to habitat loss and fragmentation, recent studies have identified other factors that may also contribute to decreasing quail populations. Parasites, in particular, have become increasingly recognized as possible stressors of quail, and some species, particularly the eyeworm (Oxyspirura petrowi) and cecal worm (Aulonocephalus pennula) are highly prevalent in Texas quails. Eyeworm infection has also been documented in some passerines, suggesting helminth infection may be shared between bird species. However, the lack of comprehensive helminth surveys has rendered the extent of shared infection between quail and passerines in the ecoregion unclear. Thus, helminth surveys were conducted on bobwhite, scaled quail (Callipepla squamata), Northern mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos), curve-billed thrashers (Toxistoma curvirostre), and Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) to contribute data to existing parasitological gaps for birds in the Rolling Plains ecoregion of Texas. Birds were trapped across 3 counties in the Texas Rolling Plains from March to October 2019. Necropsies were conducted on 54 individuals (36 quail and 18 passerines), and extracted helminths were microscopically identified. Nematode, cestode, and acanthocephalan helminths representing at least 10 helminth species were found. Specifically, A. pennula and O. petrowi had the highest prevalence, and O. petrowi was documented in all of the study species. This research adds to the body of knowledge regarding parasitic infections in quail and passerines of the Rolling Plains ecoregion and highlights the potential consequences of shared infection of eyeworms among these bird species.
Based on sequence homology and phylogenetic tree results, the first report of eyeworm Oxyspirura species larvae has been confirmed in a human patient from Vietnam. However, important information related to Oxyspirura larvae was not presented in the case study. This comment provides a more detailed comparison of the Oxyspirura larvae found in the human case study to the avian eyeworm Oxyspirura petrowi.

Lab head

Ronald J. Kendall
  • Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory
About Ronald J. Kendall
  • Ronald J. Kendall heads up the Wildlife Toxicology Laboratory ( at Texas Tech University. He is founding director of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) & founding department chair of the Department of Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech. He is Editor, Terrestrial Toxicology, for the scientific journal "Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry", published through the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). He is a SETAC Fellow.

Members (5)

Aravindan Kalyanasundaram
  • Texas Tech University
Cassandra Henry
  • Texas Tech University
Shannon Patricia Lukashow-Moore
  • Texas Tech University
Jeremiah Leach
  • Texas Tech University