The Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) has been steadily declining throughout much of its historic range for decades. The Rolling Plains ecoregion of Texas and western Oklahoma, historically rich with wild Northern Bobwhites and one of the last remaining quail strongholds, also has a declining population. During August and October in 2011–13, 348 Northern Bobwhites from the Rolling Plains were examined for eyeworms (Oxyspirura petrowi). Of these 348 Northern Bobwhites, 144 (41.4%) were infected with 1,018 total eyeworms. Eyeworm abundance (mean±SE) was 2.9±0.4 (range 0–64), with an intensity (mean±SE) of 7.1±0.6. Eyeworm prevalence was significantly higher in adult Northern Bobwhites (58.7%) than in juveniles (35.4%). Recent research suggests that eyeworms have the potential to cause cellular tissue damage to the eye, but it is unknown how these worms affect host survivability. This study further expands the regional distribution of O. petrowi in Northern Bobwhites in the Rolling Plains ecoregion and assesses the prevalence and abundance of infection across host age, host sex, and year. Further research is warranted on the life history of O. petrowi and assessing the impacts of eyeworms on their definitive host at individual and population levels.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3