Callipepla squamata - (Vigors, 1830)
Scaled Quail
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Callipepla squamata (Vigors, 1830) (TSN 175872)
French Common Names: Colin écaillé
Spanish Common Names: Codorniz Escamosa
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102396
Element Code: ABNLC23010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Galliformes Odontophoridae Callipepla
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Callipepla squamata
Taxonomic Comments: C. squamata and C. gambellii occasionally hybridize (AOU 1983). Study of genus Callipepla shows relationships of C. douglasii and C. squamata to C. californica and C. gambelii to be unclear (Zink and Blackwell 1998). Formerly in family Phasianidae; placed in family Odontophoridae by AOU (1997).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 25Nov1996
Global Status Last Changed: 25Nov1996
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Jan1997)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Arizona (S5), Colorado (S4), Kansas (S2), Navajo Nation (S3S4), Nevada (SNA), New Mexico (S3B,S4N), Oklahoma (S3), Texas (S4B), Utah (SNA)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: RESIDENT: south-central Arizona, northern New Mexico, east-central Colorado, and southwestern Kansas south through western Oklahoma, western Texas, and interior Mexico to northeastern Jalisco, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo and western Tamaulipas. Introduced and established in central Washington and eastern Nevada (AOU 1983, Schemnitz 1994).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, principally overgrazing by cattle.

HABITAT: Range improvement designed to promote grasses by brush control removes important food sources (e.g., mesquite [Prosopis spp.], snakeweed [Xanthocephalum sarothrae], broomweed [X. dracunculoides]; Ault and Stormer 1983, Davis et al. 1975, Leif and Smith 1993). An increase in perennial grass cover in the Chihuahuan Desert region of New Mexico between 1961 and 1992 corresponds to a decline in the scaled quail population (Saiwana et al. 1998). Stands of Lehmann's lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana), an exotic species planted extensively in Arizona and dominant at mid- to high elevations, are avoided (Medina 1988). In Oklahoma, a decline in population size corresponds to the establishment of Conservation Reserve Program grasslands dominated by weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvulata; Schemnitz 1993).

GRAZING: Overgrazing reduces residual grass cover, which is important to overwinter survival (Brown 1978).

PESTICIDES: Wheat seeds coated with the antifungal chemical Ceresan, may be lethal (Rollins 1981).

PREDATION: The only confirmed predator is the coyote (Canis latrans); suspected predators include hawks, roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), black-billed magpie (Pica pica), snakes, and skunks (Schemnitz 1994).

HUNTING: Recreational hunting is not considered a threat (Campbell et al. 1973, Schemnitz 1994); however, spent lead shot is eaten and may pose a threat (Best et al. 1992, Campbell 1950).

PARASITISM: Known internal parasites include three helminths (Oxyspirura petrowi, Aulonocephalus lindquisti, and Rhabdometra odiosa), a tapeworm (Raillietina sp.) and two nematodes (Physaloptera sp. and Subularia strongylina; Schemnitz 1994).

Short-term Trend Comments: Downward trend since the 1960s based on North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data and Christmas Bird Count (CBC) statistics (Brennan 1993, Giuliano and Lutz 1993, Sauer et al. 1996, Sauer et al. 1997). BBS data indicate that the rate of decline has averaged -3.8 percent per year from 1966-1991 and has increased (-8.2 percent per year) since 1982 (Church et al. 1993). A significant rangewide decline (-2.5 percent per year) has also been detected by analysis of CBC data for the years 1959-1988 (Sauer et al. 1996). A 50 percent decline was observed during a 34-year period for an area in Oklahoma (Schemnitz 1993).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: RESIDENT: south-central Arizona, northern New Mexico, east-central Colorado, and southwestern Kansas south through western Oklahoma, western Texas, and interior Mexico to northeastern Jalisco, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo and western Tamaulipas. Introduced and established in central Washington and eastern Nevada (AOU 1983, Schemnitz 1994).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AZ, CO, KS, NM, NN, NVexotic, OK, TX, UTexotic

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AZ Apache (04001), Navajo (04017)
NM Mckinley (35031), San Juan (35045)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
14 Middle San Juan (14080105)+, Chaco (14080106)+
15 Lower Puerco (15020007)+, Cottonwood Wash (15020011)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A bird (quail).
Reproduction Comments: Pair formation typically begins in mid-March in Oklahoma, but can commence as early as mid-February in Arizona (Schemnitz 1994). The nesting season begins in mid-April in Arizona and New Mexico and extends through late September throughout the range (Schemnitz 1961). Second broods are uncommon, but renesting is not. Clutch size averages 12.7 eggs (range = 9-22). Incubation takes 22-23 days and is conducted principally by the female (Schemnitz 1994). Hatching success can be 90 percent, but nest success varies from 14-22 percent (Schemnitz 1961). In New Mexico, 84 percent of eggs hatch between May and July (Campbell et al. 1973).
Ecology Comments: Population size fluctuates dramatically, most likely in response to variations in reproductive success (Schemnitz 1994). Spring-summer rainfall has been implicated in reproductive variance in New Mexico and west Texas, with lower rainfall resulting in reduced breeding success (Campbell 1968, Campbell et al. 1973, Wallmo and Uzzell 1958). In east Texas, variations in abundance correlated with winter rainfall (Giuliano and Lutz 1993). New Mexico population density estimates ranged from 1 per 3.3-50 hectares on late-seral habitat to 1 per 4-20 hectares on mid-seral habitat over a two-year period (Saiwana et al. 1998); 1 per 8.8-11.7 hectares on two adjacent areas over an eight-year period (Campbell et al. 1973). In south Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, population densities have been estimated to be 1 per 0.4 hectare, 1 per 10.9-25.9 hectares, and 1 per 5.3 hectares, respectively (Schemnitz 1994).

Generally sedentary, one individual moved 96 kilometers (Campbell and Harris 1965). Relatively short-lived; complete turnover in quail populations occurs about every six years. In New Mexico, first-year mortality averages 86 percent, annual adult mortality averages 70 percent, and annual mortality for the entire population averages 83 percent. The mortality rate for females is higher than for males (Campbell et al. 1973). Adults studied in New Mexico and Oklahoma exhibited male-biased sex ratios, whereas the sex ratio of first-year birds varied from parity in Oklahoma to female-biased in New Mexico (Campbell et al. 1973, Schemnitz 1961). The biased sex ratio of first-year birds in New Mexico may be due to the difficulty in positively determining sex of young birds (Campbell et al. 1973). Presumably sexually mature in first year after hatching.

Winter coveys average 31.2 birds in Oklahoma, 22.3-41.5 birds in Texas, and 33.4 birds in Colorado (Schemnitz 1994). Coveys begin forming in August and break up the following spring (March-April; Schemnitz 1961).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Non-migratory (Schemnitz 1994).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral
Habitat Comments: Breeding and non-breeding habitats are similar (Schemnitz 1994). In general, preferred habitat is arid-semiarid, mixed shrub-grassland. Common shrubs of preferred habitat include acacia (ACACIA spp.), sand sagebrush (ARTEMISIA FILIFOLIA), four-winged saltbush (ATRIPLEX CANESCENS), cacti (OPUNTIA spp.), honey mesquite (PROSOPIS GLANDULOSA), sumacs (RHUS AROMATICA, R. MICROPHYLLA, R. TRILOBATA), yucca (YUCCA spp.), and snakeweed (XANTHOCEPHALUM SAROTHRAE). In New Mexico, sightings are highest in mixed shrub-grassland, intermediate in shrub-dominated habitats, and lowest in grasslands (Saiwana et al. 1998). Most (54 percent) sightings in Oklahoma are associated with shrubs, 29 percent with man-made cover, and 16 percent in grassland or cropland (Schemnitz 1961). In southern Arizona, 89 percent of sightings occur in mesquite grassland, mixed shrubland, and shrub-dominated washes (Medina 1988).

In areas of sympatry, northern bobwhite (COLINUS VIRGINIANUS) and scaled quail tend to select different habitats. In Oklahoma, northern bobwhite were most frequently observed in riparian habitats, whereas scaled quail were observed in upland habitats (Schemnitz 1964). During the breeding season in Texas, scaled quail selected denser, shorter shrub habitat than northern bobwhite (Reid et al. 1979, Reid et al. 1993). Unlike northern bobwhite, which selects dense herbaceous cover, scaled quail in south Texas prefers sparsely vegetated areas with a shrub overstory with a relatively high percentage of bare ground (Wilson and Crawford 1987). Roosts on the ground beneath shrub cover (Schemnitz 1994).

Nests on the ground in a depression lined with dry grasses (Terres 1991). In Oklahoma, 66 percent of 50 nests were found amid dead Russian-thistle (SALSOLA PESTIFER), machinery and junk, mixed forbs, and soapweed (YUCCA GLAUCA; Schemnitz 1961). In New Mexico, 66 percent of 14 nests were located in dead Russian-thistle, mixed forbs, soapweed, johnson grass (SORGHUM HALEPENSE) and overhanging rocks (Russell 1932, cited in Schemnitz 1961). A single nest in Colorado was found amid Russian-thistle (Long 1941, cited in Schemnitz 1961).

Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Foods include seeds of shrubs, forbs and grasses, cultivated grains, insects, and herbaceous leaves. Forage primarily from dawn to approximately 10:00 hours, then from about 16:00 hours until dark (Schemnitz 1961). The contents of 1204 crops collected during early winter in Oklahoma were 93 percent plant material and 7 percent insects. Seeds of four species, including grain sorghum, comprised 59 percent of the diet (Schemnitz 1961). Fall-winter contents of 135 crops collected in Oklahoma were 89.5 percent seeds, 9 percent leaves and 1 percent insects (Rollins 1981). Seeds of forbs and shrubs comprised 57 percent of the diet year-round in a study of 162 crops collected in Arizona (Medina 1988). The contents of 227 fall-winter crops collected in New Mexico was 81 percent seeds, 8 percent leaves and stems, and 6.5 percent insects (Campbell et al. 1973). The fall-winter diet of 593 birds taken by hunters in southwestern New Mexico was comprised principally of seeds of snakeweed (XANTHOCEPHALUM SAROTHRAE; 15 percent) and Russian thistle (SALSOLA PESTIFER; 10 percent), grain sorghum (8 percent), green vegetation (7 percent), and insect (6 percent; Schemnitz et al. 1998a). Seeds (42 percent), green herbage (26 percent), and insects (32.5 percent) comprised the year-round diet determined by analysis of 324 droppings in Texas (Ault and Stormer 1983). The contents of 32 winter crops collected in Southwestern Texas contained 93 percent seeds and 7 percent leaves (Lehmann and Ward 1941). In Arizona, annual seed consumption varied from 53.5 percent in summer to 87.5 percent in fall, insect consumption from 2 percent in winter to 18 percent in summer, and green herbage consumption from 3.5 percent in fall to 30 percent in winter (Medina 1988). In Texas, annual seed consumption varied from 30.5 percent in one winter to 60 percent in another winter, insect consumption from 13 percent in winter to 57 percent in summer, and green herbage consumption from 9 percent in summer to 43 percent in spring (Ault and Stormer 1983). In New Mexico, the summer diet is comprised of 54 percent seeds, 36.5 percent insects, and 9.6 percent green vegetation, whereas in winter the diet is 74 percent seeds, 15 percent green vegetation, and 11 percent insects. (Davis et al. 1975). In Oklahoma, sympatric northern bobwhite quail and scaled quail have a high degree of dietary overlap (Rollins 1981). In south Texas, however, northern bobwhites consume a greater percentage of animal matter and grass seeds, and scaled quail eat a higher percentage of woody plant seeds and fleshy fruits (Wilson and Crawford 1987).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 25 centimeters
Weight: 191 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Populations have declined rangewide an average of -3.8 percent per year from 1966-1991. Preferred habitat is arid to semi-arid, mixed shrub-grassland. Habitat changes associated with land use appear to have contributed to the decline. Habitat modification associated with cattle grazing is the greatest threat. Residual grass cover is lost through overgrazing, and shrub cover is eliminated when mixed shrub-grasslands are converted to grasslands to improve forage. Moderate grazing is a compatible land use and can improve habitat conditions in some circumstances. Currently-used quantitative monitoring techniques need to be continued, although assumptions of some techniques (e.g., hunter success) should be verified. The methods of estimating and tracking population size need refinement.
Restoration Potential: The potential to increase population numbers through changes in land management exists. Reduced grazing pressure, through pasture rotation or reductions in stocking rates, can improve habitat conditions by promoting the preferred mix of shrubs and grasses.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Shrub cover is an essential habitat component. More quail are associated with mesquite habitats than areas converted to mesquite-free grasslands for cattle grazing (Germano et al. 1983).
Management Requirements: Moderate grazing is compatible with, and can improve habitat conditions (Bock et al. 1984, Brown 1978, Medina 1988, Smith et al. 1996). In grass-dominated habitats, moderate grazing improves conditions by reducing grass density, creating more bare ground, and encouraging germination of forbs (Bock et al. 1984, Schemnitz et al. 1998a). Quail prefer pastures grazed intermittently (pasture rotation) over those grazed year-round (Campbell-Kissock et al. 1984). Although free-standing water is used, it does not appear to be critical for survival. In New Mexico, gallinaceous guzzlers are ineffective and impractical (Campbell 1960). Ramps into and out of stock watering tanks can provide access to water (Schemnitz et al. 1998b).
Monitoring Requirements: Techniques used to assess populations include flush counts and call counts along transects throughout the year, call counts of males during the breeding season, winter covey counts, and live-trapping prior to the hunting season (Bock et al. 1984, Germano et al. 1983, Schemnitz 1994, Smith et al. 1996).
Management Research Needs: More research is needed on causes of population fluctuations (e.g., weather, predation); management strategies to improve reproductive success and individual survival; effects of land use practices such as grazing, brush control, non-native grass establishment and crop production; minimal and optimal sizes of management units; direct and indirect effects of pesticides; impacts of recreational hunting; and methods of estimating and tracking population size (Brown et al. 1993, Capel et al. 1993, Schemnitz 1994).
Biological Research Needs: Studies of evolutionary relationships with other species of quail are needed, as are details of molts and plumages (Schemnitz 1994).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Quail

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single observations outside the normal breeding distribution.

If a population moves between a breeding area and a widely separate nonbreeding area, consider creating a separate breeding and nonbreeding occurrences.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: High potential for gene flow among populations of even relatively sedentary birds such as quail make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for quail; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other. If locations farther apart than the separation distance are known to represent a single population, treat these as parts of the same occurrence, regardless of the distance.

Summer ranges of California Quail are larger and more scattered than winter ranges; home ranges of laying females in Oregon ranged from 6 to 77 hectares (Calkins et al. 1999). Home ranges of Bobwhites vary tremendously; from about 4 to about 100 hectares, up to 282 hectares in low quality habitat (Taylor et al. 1999a, Lee 1994, Manley 1994, DeVos and Mueller 1993). Montezuma Quail have very small home ranges; pairs are often found in the same areas (50 square meters) year after year; covey home ranges after breeding are about 1-2 hectares (Bishop 1964, Stromberg 2000). Mountain Quail relatively sedentary during breeding season, but can travel at least 25 kilometers to avoid snow in winter (Gutierrez and Delehanty 1999).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a home range of 6 hectares.
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Winter range
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of wintering individuals (including historical) at least several kilometers outside their breeding area; and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 10 birds in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is an arbitrary value intended to result in occurrences of reasonable geographic scope. If locations farther apart than the separation distance are known to represent a single population, treat these as parts of the same occurrence, regardless of the distance.

Winter ranges of California Quail are smaller than summer ranges (Calkins et al. 1999). Mountain Quail relatively sedentary during breeding season, but can travel at least 25 kilometers to avoid snow in winter (Gutierrez and Delehanty 1999).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a relatively small home range of 6 hectares.
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single observations outside the normal breeding distribution.

If a population moves between a breeding area and a widely separate nonbreeding area, consider creating a separate breeding and nonbreeding occurrences.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: High potential for gene flow among populations of even relatively sedentary birds such as quail make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for quail; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other. If locations farther apart than the separation distance are known to represent a single population, treat these as parts of the same occurrence, regardless of the distance.

Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Management Information Edition Date: 30Nov1999
Management Information Edition Author: PALIS, J.; REVISIONS BY M. KOENEN AND D.W. MEHLMAN
Management Information Acknowledgments: The author thanks Dr. Sanford Schemnitz for reviewing a draft of the abstract and providing some references. Funding for the preparation of this abstract was provided through the Great Plains Bird Conservation Planning Team, supported by The Nature Conservancy's Wings of the Americas, Ecoregional Conservation, and Great Plains Programs.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 30Nov1999
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): PALIS, J.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Reid, R. R., C. E. Grue, and N. J. Silvy. 1979. Competition between bobwhite and scaled quail for habitat in Texas. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 33:146-153.

  • Reid, R. R., C. E. Grue, and N. J. Silvy. 1993. Habitat requirements of breeding scaled quail in Texas. Proceedings of the National Quail Symposium III:137-142.

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  • Rollins, D. 1981. Diets of sympatric bobwhite and scaled quail in Oklahoma. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 35:239-248.

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