Category: Research

07 Oct 2021

The GISt of Missing Bobwhites

The GISt of Missing Bobwhites

Every May for the past 3 years, our research team has spent one morning a week at our Lewis Township facility in Brown County, listening for the mating calls of bobwhite quail. Starting before dawn, the team listens intently for their calls, hoping to hear at least one as a sign of their return to the area. Bobwhites have become a rarity in these parts and their natural habitats have experienced severe decline as small farms intermixed with forests and hedgerows are replaced by large row-crop fields. Our hope has been that as we transition this farm back to one with more bobwhite friendly elements, we will see their return. Unfortunately the team failed to hear any bobwhites, the same outcome as years 1 and 2. To get a better sense of why we weren’t seeing a reversal in this trend, Research Intern Luke Weyer chose to perform a habitat suitability assessment of the Lewis Township facility as his summer intern project.

A habitat suitability model measures the quality of habitat based on three life requisites: winter food, cover, and nesting. In order for bobwhites to thrive, all three must be provided by the environment.

“The data I collected on these variables were integrated into a geographic information system (GIS) to generate suitability maps for each requisite (see image). The results were less than stellar and not unexpected, given the lack of bobwhite calls. The model found moderate, but also adequate, suitability for both cover and nesting, yet food was much lower making it the limiting factor.”

– Luke Weyer, Research Intern

With this new data in hand, we have hope for future years. The native warm season grasses planted at Lewis Township are establishing well which will provide excellent habitat for bobwhites. These grasses provide the bobwhite more opportunities to find sheltered food sources, as well as more nesting cover.  “After the completion of my project, a bobwhite was heard near the property in August, so I think we’re moving in the right direction with our efforts” continues Weyer, “I look forward to what the future holds”.

Greenacres plans to continue monitoring and improving habitats for bobwhites in Brown County.

Winter food availability
Nesting suitability
Cover suitability
The range of suitability.
26 Sep 2020

Grazing Cover Crops Year 2

Grazing Cover Crops Year 2

We are currently in our second year of the UT study.  In 2019 we had trouble timing our grazing, but this year our grazing went very well. Last year we saw more trampling than grazing due to the height and growth stage of the cover crops. This year we were able to get the cattle in each plot when the cover crops were still palatable, so we saw the opposite effect of 2019. Each grazed plot had the cattle in them for 24 hours at a time, and each plot was grazed two times. Our cattle loved eating the cover crops so much that they ran to the next plot like children running out to recess. Overall, the cover crops and grazing looked much better than they did in 2019.

06 Aug 2020

What’s in our Wetland?

What’s in our Wetland?

At Greenacres we strive to provide education opportunities in all forms. One way we do this is internships. Our interns are responsible for helping with daily tasks and developing an independent project. This year’s intern surveyed our education wetland by collecting data on vegetation (aquatic and surrounding upland), water chemistry (pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrates), and macroinvertebrates (benthic and water column).

The surrounding area was dominated by black and brown eyed susans and partridge pea, followed by late boneset and an unknown grass species (Figure 1). There were a total of 54 species identified and 18 of which were planted or seeded. The 18 planted or seeded species had the highest densities and had a very successful establishment. Due to sampling timing, it is likely that some planted and seeded species had already bloomed or were not in season yet. Consequently, sampling in multiple seasons will be needed to help capture the wetland as a whole.

We really enjoyed the macroinvertebrate sampling portion of this project. We collected data on benthic (bottom) and the water column macroinvertebrates using a 10 inch diameter stove pipe. Macroinvertebrates are good indicators of water quality and overall wetland health, so sampling these is a must! The majority of what we found (leaches, water crawling beetles, etc.) were pollution tolerant species, but we had two groups (mayflies and dragonflies) in high abundance that are pollution intolerant (Figure 2). These data showed that our wetland can support a diverse population of macroinvertebrates and is in good health. As we continue to sample the wetland, we will make necessary changes to keep it thriving for our education programs.

–Chad G.

10 Jun 2020

Bobwhite Mornings

Bobwhite Mornings

I began working as an intern for the research team here at Greenacres a few weeks ago and one of the first projects that the team introduced me to was the Bobwhite Quail project. This project is unique and important because Bobwhite quail populations have been in decline across Ohio and in their other native locations over the last several decades due to habitat loss and degradation. Bobwhites are a significant species for several reasons, serving as prey for terrestrial predators as well as birds of prey. Bobwhites also influence the plant communities in which they live due to their diet which consists heavily of seeds and foliage. They are an edge species which means that they seek brushy habitats where woodlands connect with pastures, row crops, and fields. Both the Lewis Township and Northern Kentucky properties are potential habitats for Bobwhites. In particular, the NKY property contains native warm season grasses (NWSG) which can provide the Bobwhites with both tall and short grasses and corridors to move throughout and nest within.

These are early mornings! When we monitor for Bobwhites, we meet at around 6:00 am and listen for their calls until around 7:30 am. It is special to spend the first hour and a half of your day sitting in nature and listening to the many birds, insects, and even deer that populate Lewis Township and Northern Kentucky while simultaneously taking part in the meaningful Bobwhite Quail project. As of this past week we have reached the end of the season where we can listen for Bobwhite calls and unfortunately we do not have any success to report, but we are certainly hopeful for the future. Below is a link to a YouTube video where you can listen to a Bobwhite Quail call as well as a picture of a male Bobwhite Quail for reference.

Hear one for yourself! (