Philip Sheridan and William Scholl, Meadowview Biological Research Station.
Southeastern Virginia is characterized by a fire-dependent flora which
has suffered significant degradation due to fire suppression, drainage
of wetlands, and farm and timber practices. Several plant species
have been extirpated while only a few populations are extant for a number
of others. Botanical investigations of a fire-maintained quail plantation
in south Georgia resulted in the discovery of healthy populations of several
rare plant species which are experiencing serious population declines in
surrounding regions. These results indicate that existing quail management
practices in south Georgia may be consistent with preservation of rare
and endangered plant species. Losses of bobwhite quail populations
in Virginia have resulted in the Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries
producing a management plan which advocates increased use of prescribed
burns to restore quail habitat. We recommend the establishment of
a pilot quail plantation in southern Virginia based on the Georgia model
and the reintroduction of historical, extirpated or rare plant species.
We suggest that quail plantations may serve as financially self-supporting
biopreserves for both quail and Virginia’s fire-dependent flora.