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In their pursuit to unlock the mystery of bobwhite quail decline in Texas, Park Cities Quail provided funding for a study of the bobwhite quail genome.

The project, which began in 2011 with the harvesting of a wild bobwhite quail test subject from the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch in Roby, has been completed, and the work has been publishing in the current issue of the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

The genetic mapping of this wild bobwhite quail, named Pattie-Marie, could prove to be instrumental in helping researchers understand historic and future bobwhite population trends.

“This is an important piece of the puzzle. It is our hope that this once humble bird will provide the foundation of independent research by scientists all over the world,” said Joe Crafton, who also helped fund the study. “This is a classic example of hunters funding the research that will eventually result in population growth of key wildlife species.”

“By sequencing and assembling the bobwhite quail genome, the team has produced the most comprehensive resource currently available for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research in the bobwhite,” said Dr. Chris Seabury of Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine, who led the study. “We now have a more formal resource of studying the bird and identifying new, or perhaps even more specific reasons for its serious decline.”

The bobwhite quail was recently named first on the “Top Ten Bird in Decline” in North America by the Audubon Society. With a population crash from 31 million in 1967, to only 5.5 million in 2007, the bobwhite quail has experienced an 80 percent decline over the past 40 years. With this groundbreaking research on the bobwhite quail genome, it is hope that researchers can identify genetic factors that may play a role in their decline, and perhaps even quail “lineages” with higher resistance to disease and environmental stresses.

– Park Cities Quail

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