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Regional Surveillance of Northern Bobwhite in the Rolling Plains, TX

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Aravindan Kalyanasundaram
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The northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) is a popular gamebird in the Rolling Plains Ecoregion of West Texas. However, there has been a population decline in this area over recent decades. Consistent reports indicate a high prevalence of the eyeworm (Oxyspirura petrowi) and caecal worm (Aulonocephalus pennula), which may be of major influence on the bobwhite population. While research has suggested pathological consequences and genetic relatedness to other pathologically significant parasites, little is known about the influence of climate on these parasites. In this study, we examined whether seasonal temperature and precipitation influences the intensity of these parasites in bobwhite. We also analyzed quantitative PCR results for bobwhite feces and cloacal swabs against temperature and precipitation to identify climatic impacts on parasite reproduction in this region. Multiple linear regression analyses were used for parasite intensity investigation while binary logistic regression analyses were used for parasite reproduction studies. Our analyses suggest that caecal worm intensity, caecal worm reproduction, and eyeworm reproduction are influenced by temperature and precipitation. Temperature data was collected 15, 30, and 60 days prior to the date of collection of individual bobwhite and compared to qPCR results to generate a temperature range that may influence future eyeworm reproduction. This is the first preliminary study investigating climatic influences with predictive statistics on eyeworm and caecal worm infection of northern bobwhite in the Rolling Plains.
Kendall R. Blanchard
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Northern bobwhite quail ( Colinus virginianus ), a popular gamebird among hunters, have been declining over recent decades in the Rolling Plains ecoregion. Investigations in the past few years have revealed a high prevalence of eyeworms ( Oxyspirura petrowi ) and caecal worms ( Aulonocephalus pennula ) in this ecoregion, prompting a need to better understand their host–parasite interaction and other factors that influence infection. In this study, the efficiency of a mobile laboratory was tested by deploying it to three field sites in the Rolling Plains between July and August of 2017 and collecting cloacal swabs from bobwhites. The DNA was extracted from swabs for quantitative PCR and was run in the mobile and reference laboratory to specifically detect A. pennula and O. petrowi infection. When compared with the Wildlife Toxicology's reference laboratory, the mobile laboratory had a 97 and 99% agreement for A. pennula and O. petrowi , respectively. There were no significant differences in infection levels between field sites. Due to its efficiency, it is proposed that the mobile laboratory would be an effective way to monitor infection levels, in addition to factors that may affect infection such as climate, diapause, and intermediate host populations.