Congratulations to Cherie Nelson, newest lab alum!

Dec. 22, 2021


Person holding a quail with gloved hands
Matt Hays


Congratulations to Cherie Nelson on the successful defense of her master’s thesis! Cherie studied the survival and reproduction of Gambel’s quail following translocations to determine whether quail translocated from golf courses might be a feasible management strategy.

Gambel’s quail numbers in wild populations have been dwindling in recent years, concerning managers and researchers alike. On golf courses, however, quail numbers remain stable due to year-round access to water and food. It’s possible that wild populations can be augmented by translocating quail from golf courses back to their native habitat.

Cherie spent two summers in the Sonoran Desert tracking Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) translocated to ranchlands from the golf courses of Phoenix. In the early morning hours, Cherie drove up and down country roads listening for their calls, taking careful survey of call numbers along specific transects throughout the season. She then spent her days tracking the tagged birds, searching out nests, and counting eggs.

Survival and reproduction varied markedly between site and year, suggesting that habitat type and annual environmental conditions, like drought, may affect translocation success. Her research highlights important nuances determining translocation success and helps managers pinpoint the best time and place for release to ensure high survival rates following translocation.