Ground-dwelling arthropod communities related to nesting success of northern bobwhite at two western Oklahoma wildlife management areas.
Numbers of northern bobwhite, Colinus virginianus (L.), have decreased during the past 50 years in Oklahoma. It is unknown if the availability of grounddwelling arthropods on which bobwhite chicks rely for 80% of their protein requirements plays a role because little is known of ground-dwelling arthropod communities in bobwhite habitats of western Oklahoma. We used pitfall traps to sample community composition and size classes of ground-dwelling arthropods along transects that spanned four vegetation zones at two wildlife management areas occupied by bobwhites in western Oklahoma and recorded the abundance of quail nests per zone. After collecting and identifying 58,020 arthropods from families known to be eaten by quail, we found 60% of the arthropods ideally suited for quail consumption were in riparian zones, and that most quail nested in upland zones. Approximately 15% of nests were in the zones with the most abundant arthropods in the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area during 2013, compared to 5% in the Beaver Wildlife Management Area during 2013. Quail did not nest in the zones with the greatest numbers of suitable arthropods, perhaps because of invasive plants in the regions or because vegetation in other regions was more suitable for nesting.