Overview

Distribution

Range

Grasslands of Australia and Tasmania.

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Geographic Range

Stubble quail are found in two separate areas in Australia. One population is in the southeast, and the other, larger population, is in the southwestern part of the country (Alderton, 1992).

Biogeographic Regions: australian (Native )

  • Alderton, D. 1992. The Atlas of Quails. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Stubble quail are 17.5 cm in length (Alderton, 1992) and weigh 99 to 128 g. Adult wing and tail lengths are 104 to 117 mm and 38 to 46 mm, respectively (Johnsgard, 1988).

Males and females are dark brown above with vertical buff streaking. The breast and abdomen are buff with brown to black streaking on the females' breast and heavier streaking and a black patch on males. Both males and females have white eye stripes topped with a thin dark brownish to black stripe. The crown is dark brown for both sexes. The throat and sides of the head are a tawny brown on males and a light brown on females (Alderton, 1992).

Range mass: 99 to 128 g.

Average length: 17.5 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Stubble quail inhabit a variety of temperate, terrestrial environments including agricultural areas and well-drained plains (Johnsgard, 1988; Alderton, 1992). The availability of water is a determinant of their habitat preference (Alderton, 1992).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Stubble quail are chiefly seed eaters (Alderton, 1992). They prefer seeds of cultivated cereals, grasses, and weeds. They also consume leafy materials and a very small number of insects (Johnsgard, 1988).

Animal Foods: insects

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts

Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Stubble quail have an impact on the plants and insects they consume.

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Predation

We do not have information on predation for this species at this time.

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Known prey organisms

Coturnix pectoralis preys on:
Insecta

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

The male utters a whistled, three-note or four-note advertisement call given as "chuch-ee-whit" or "chip-a-terweet." In addition, sometimes a sharp two-note "to-weep" is uttered. These quail will abruptly flush and land with a loud whirring of their wings (Johnsgard, 1988).

Communication Channels: acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

We do not have information on the lifespan/longevity of this species at this time.

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Reproduction

We do not have information on mating systems for this species at this time.

Breeding depends on food availability and rainfall (Johnsgard, 1988).

Eggs are approximately 30.3 mm by 23.4 mm and weigh 9.2 g. There are six to eleven eggs per clutch, and incubation lasts 18 to 21 days (Johnsgard, 1988). The chicks are considered to be mature after four months (Alderton, 1992).

Range eggs per season: 6 to 11.

Range time to hatching: 18 to 21 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 months.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization (Internal )

Chicks are precocial.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-fertilization

  • Johnsgard, P. 1988. The Quails, Partridges, and Francolins of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Alderton, D. 1992. The Atlas of Quails. Neptune City, NJ: T.F.H. Publications.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Coturnix pectoralis

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGACTATTCTCAACCAACCACAAAGACATTGGCACTCTTTATTTAATTTTCGGCACATGAGCAGGCATAGCCGGTACAGCACTT---AGCCTGTTAATCCGCGCAGAACTAGGACAACCAGGTACCCTCCTAGGAGAC---GACCAAATTTATAATGTAATTGTCACAGCACATGCCTTCGTCATAATCTTCTTTATAGTTATACCAATCATGATCGGAGGCTTCGGAAACTGACTCGTCCCACTTATA---ATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTTCCACGTATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCACCCTCCTTCCTCCTTCTACTAGCTTCCTCCACCGTTGAAGCTGGTGCCGGTACAGGATGAACCGTTTACCCACCCCTAGCCGGCAACCTCGCCCATGCTGGGGCATCAGTAGATTTA---GCCATCTTTTCCCTACACCTAGCAGGTGTATCATCAATCCTAGGAGCTATCAACTTCATCACCACCATTATCAATATAAAACCCCCTGCACTATCACAATATCAAACACCCTTATTTGTTTGATCAGTCCTCATCACTGCCATTCTACTTCTACTCTCCCTCCCAGTCCTAGCTGCC---GGCATTACTATGCTTCTTACTGACCGAAATCTC
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Coturnix pectoralis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Stubble quail are not listed by either CIES or the IUCN.

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as generally common in Victoria and New South Wales (Madge and McGowan 2002).

Population Trend
Increasing
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of stubble quail on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Stubble quail may be included as members of an aviary.

Positive Impacts: pet trade

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Wikipedia

Stubble Quail

Drawing of the head of a Stubble Quail

The Stubble Quail (Coturnix pectoralis) is a native Australian species which is the most common quail species in Australia.[2] The species is not under any threat of extinction (IUCN Least Concern).[3] Stubble Quail are widespread and found throughout all states and territories of Australia excluding Tasmania.[4] Other common names include the Grey Quail and the Pectoral Quail.[5]

Description[edit]

The Stubble Quail is a ground dwelling bird that is characterised by its dark brown feathers with a cream coloured strip down the centre of each feather giving rise to stripes down the length of the bird. It is a plump species that is larger than other native quails. Male birds will mature at about 18.0-18.5 cm long and females are generally slightly larger.[6] Adult males weigh around 100g and the females around 110g with all birds having a wingspan of between 25–33 cm.[7] The Stubble Quail can also be identified by the loud whirring noise made by their wings during take-off into flight once disturbed from on the ground.

Similar species[edit]

The Brown Quail is also a member of the Phasianidae family that looks similar to the Stubble Quail however the Brown Quail appears darker in colour. The white streaks that are obvious on the back of the Stubble Quail are thinner and less obvious on the Brown Quail. The Brown Quail does not have white streaks underneath its body like the Stubble Quail, but has black horizontal bars instead. This makes the Brown Quail look much darker than the Stubble Quail in flight. The Brown Quail's wings produce a whistling noise when flushed which is different from the whirring sound produced by the Stubble Quail's wings.[7] The Plains-wanderer is a highly endangered native species that looks very similar to the Stubble Quail but can be distinguished by their long yellow legs that can be observed during flight.[2] The Little Buttonquail is a member of the Turnicidae family but is another species that is sometimes confused with the Stubble Quail. The Little Button-quail is a smaller bird with short, round wings and often makes a call of alarm when flushed whereas Stubble Quail are vocally silent.[7]

Taxonomy[edit]

The Stubble Quail is a member of the Phasianidae family.[3][8] C. pectoralis has sometimes been considered conspecific with the extinct New Zealand Quail, C. novaezealandiae . In this case, the latter species' name would have priority and the Stubble Quail would become Coturnix novaezelandiae pectoralis. Phylogenetic analysis of three separate mitochondrial control region sequences in 2009 showed a close phylogeneic relationship between the two birds and it was confirmed that they are separate species. Geographic isolation occurred between the Australian species and the New Zealand species when the Tasman Sea became too wide for the birds to fly the journey. This geographic isolation enabled genetic divergence to occur and two separate species were produced. The two species then independently lost the ability to fly long distances.[9]

Distribution and Habitat[edit]

Stubble Quail are found in a diverse range of habitats from very dry parts of Australia [10] to alpine grasslands.[11] Stubble Quail are more common in the high rainfall areas of south eastern and western Australia though are often found in the arid zone after above average rainfall.[7] The species was found in all Australian states including Tasmania up until the 1940s to 1960s when they became extinct in Tasmania.[4] On the mainland Stubble Quail are found in a variety of biomes but tend to avoid wooded areas as the canopy obstructs the growth of thick grassy undergrowth that they prefer.[7] The quail prefer a habitat of tall grassland made up of native grass species, introduced species or crops.[2] The density of the ground cover is highly important for Stubble Quail habitat as the birds prefer very dense vegetation.[6] A high density of kangaroos and rabbits (or any grazing animal) in an area can decrease the height and density of grassland vegetation and make the habitat unsuitable for Stubble Quail.[12] The birds are frequently found in agricultural areas after the harvest of cereal crops [8] where they feed on grain and insects.[4]

Behaviour[edit]

Breeding[edit]

In Victoria the quail breed between August and December [6] but breeding season can vary due to environmental conditions.[13] Breeding pairs may stay together for all year and if a pair is separated when flushed, they will call to each other in order to locate each other.[7] The female Stubble Quail lays about seven or eight yellow eggs which are incubated solely by her for 18 days.[2] Often Stubble Quail nest in crops that are about to be harvested so their nests get destroyed.[4] Both parents guard the chicks until they are almost full sized birds [7] but once the chicks reach six weeks and have a full plume of feathers, their parents remove the chicks from their own breeding grounds.[6] Males call at dawn and dusk as a territorial display.[7]

Travel[edit]

Stubble Quail are nomadic and move to available resources however when resources are very limited, they tend to scatter in all directions.[14] The birds can travel very long distances with the furthest recorded at 1142 km.[4] Stubble Quail are usually sighted individually or in pairs though are sometime seen in small groups[2] of up to 20 birds. Larger groups will be present in areas where the conditions are good.[7]

Threats[edit]

Foxes and cats are their biggest predators, especially when nesting.[6] Humans also reduce the numbers of Stubble Quail as they can legally be hunted in some parts of Australia, however there are strict regulations in place to ensure that they are not hunted at times when the population is weak such as breeding, moulting and environmental stress.[2]

Evolutionary Adaptations[edit]

The Stubble Quail has many evolutionary adaptations that enable it to live very dry conditions. These include low daily water requirements, high tolerance of saline water and the ability to produce highly concentrated waste products.[10] Highly concentrated urine is achieved by the large medulla in the kidney which is present in the Stubble Quail. If the birds have access to green foliage as well as grain, the Stubble Quail can survive without drinking any water.[8] In areas where temperatures are very hot, Stubble Quail have been observed to forage during the night.[15] Stubble Quail that live in arid areas can have very irregular breeding patterns that are more dependent on environmental conditions than day length. This takes advantage of resources such as food and water, for their chicks.[13] The Stubble Quail are thermally neutral at 30-35oC so in some habitats where temperatures fall below 0oC a large amount of energy is expended maintaining body temperature.[15]

Reference List[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Coturnix pectoralis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Anonymous. (updated September 1st, 2013). Stubble Quail. State Government Victoria: Department of environment and primary industries. Retrieved October 12th, 2013 from http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/fishing-and-hunting/game-hunting/stubble-quail
  3. ^ a b Anonymous. (No date). Coturnix (Coturnix) pectoralis Gould, 1837. Atlas of Living Australia – An Australian Government Initiative. Retrieved October 12th 2013 from http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Coturnix+%28Coturnix%29+pectoralis
  4. ^ a b c d e Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F. & Reilly, P.N. (1984). The atlas of Australian birds. Victoria: Melbourne University Press.
  5. ^ Anonymous. (1969). An Index of Australian Bird Names. Division of Wildlife Research Technical Paper, 20, 93. Canberra : CSIRO. Sited in: No author (updated July 4th, 2013). Species Coturnix (Coturnix) pectoralis Gould, 1837. Australian Government: Department of Environment. Retrieved October 12th, 2013 from http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/fauna/afd/taxa/Coturnix%20%28Coturnix%29%20pectoralis
  6. ^ a b c d e Anonymous. (updated September 1st, 2013). Introduction to property based game management - Stubble Quail. State Government Victoria: Department of environment and primary industries. Retrieved October 12th 2013 from http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/fishing-and-hunting/game-hunting/game-hunting-education/game-management-initiatives/introduction-to-property-based-game-management-stubble-quail.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Marchant, S. & Higgins, P.J. (Eds.). (1993). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic birds (Vol. 2). Melbourne, Oxford University Press.
  8. ^ a b c Roberts, J.R. & Baudinette, R.V. (1984). The water economy of Stubble Quail, Coturnix pectoralis, and King Quail, Coturnix chinensis. Australian Journal of Zoology, 32(5), 637-647. DOI: 10.1071/ZO9840637.
  9. ^ Seabrook-Davidson, M., Huynen, L., Lambert, D.M. & Brunton, D.H. (2009). Ancient DNA resolves identity and phylogeny of New Zealand’s extinct and living quail (Coturnix sp.). PloS ONE, 4(7), 1-7. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006400
  10. ^ a b Roberts, J.R., Baudinette, R.V. & Wheldrake, J.F. (1984). Renal clearance studies in Stubble Quail Coturnix pectoralis and King Quail Coturnix chinensis under conditions of hydration, dehydration, and salt loading. Physiological Zoology, 58(3), 340-349. Retrieved October 12th, 2013 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30156005.
  11. ^ Osborne, W.S. & Green, K. (1992). Seasonal changes in composition, abundance and foraging behavior of birds in the snowy mountains. EMU, 92(2), 93-105. DOI: 10.1071/MU9920093.
  12. ^ Neave, H.M. & Tanton, M.T. (1989). The effects of grazing by Kangaroos and Rabbits on vegetation and the habitat of other fauna in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Australian Capital Territory. Australian Wildlife Research, 16(3), 337-351. DOI: 10.1071/WR9890337
  13. ^ a b Frith, H.J. & Carpenter, S.M. (1980). Breeding of Stubble Quail, Coturnix pectoralis, in South-Eastern Australia. Wildlife research, 7(1), 117-137. DOI: 10.1071/WR9800117.
  14. ^ Frith, H.J. & Waterman, M.H. (1977). Movements of Stubble Quail, Coturnix pectoralis, from South Australian grain fields. Australian Wildlife Research, 4(1), 85-90. DOI: 10.1071/WR9770085.
  15. ^ a b Roberts, J.R. & Baudinette, R.V. (1986). Thermoregulation, oxygen consumption, and water turnover in Stubble Quail, Coturnix pectoralis, and King Quail, Coturnix chinensis. Australian Journal of Zoology, 34(1), 25-33. DOI: 10.1071/ZO9860025
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