Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville researchers past and present produce key wildlife papers over past 75 years

KINGSVILLE - November 27, 2012

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

When Scott Henke was a doctoral student at Texas Tech University, he worked with his then-faculty mentor, Dr. Fred Bryant, on a paper entitled “Effects of Coyote Removal on the Faunal Community in Western Texas,” published in 1999 in the Journal of Wildlife Management (JWM).

Both men have become trailblazers in the wildlife management field and currently work at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in leadership positions. And both were pleasantly surprised when one of their papers was chosen by The Wildlife Society as one of the key papers that advanced the field of wildlife conservation over the past 75 years.

According to the story, published in the fall 2012 edition of The Wildlife Society’s official publication Wildlife Professional, “A third landmark paper that addressed the concept of keystone predators in a modern context was published in JWM by Scott Henke and Fred Bryant, titled, ‘Effects of Coyote Removal on the Faunal Community in Western Texas’ (Henke and Bryant 1999). This paper also was one of the first to reflect a change in predation research from single-species dynamics to multi-species interactions, a concept that Aldo Leopold raised most eloquently in his essay, ‘Thinking Like a Mountain’ (Leopold 1949).”

Henke, now Dr. Henke, is a Regents Professor and chair of the Department of Animal, Rangeland and Wildlife Science. “I was shocked when I saw our paper listed as one of the papers that changed the wildlife profession,” he said. “I knew it was good work, but I never considered it to have that kind of stature.”

Bryant is now professor and Leroy G. Denman Jr. Director of Wildlife Research for the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, which along with Henke’s department, is part of the Dick and Mary Lewis Kleberg College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

“Scott Henke was my Ph.D. student at the time, and together we designed and developed what we thought was a very good study,” he said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that the work would be considered a landmark paper, one of the top three studies ever done on predator ecology over the past 75 years.

“It is a humbling experience to be mentioned in the same breath with those who I consider to be giants in the field of wildlife science. Overwhelming and gratifying are two words that come to mind,” Bryant said.

“I have always been proud to say we have some of the most knowledgeable and well-recognized researchers working at Texas A&M-Kingsville,” said Dr. Steven Tallant. “This verifies that fact. I am honored to have researchers of this caliber as part of the Javelina family.”

Henke said his study investigated the effects of a coyote removal program on populations of potential prey animals. “We removed coyotes every three months on two sites and left coyotes along two other sites for three years,” he said. “Major effects included sites with coyote removal lost the majority of their rodent populations because kangaroo rats increased on these sites so greatly that they kicked out the other species of rodents, and jackrabbit populations increased three-fold with coyote removal, which increased competition for forage with cattle.”

The bottom line, Henke said -- “Getting rid of coyotes created more problems environmentally and financially for ranchers.”

Two other former employees of Texas A&M-Kingsville had their papers recognized by The Wildlife Society.

Dr. Steve Demarais, now Dale H. Arner Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Mississippi State University, was recognized for his paper, “Biological and Social Issues Related to Confinement of Wild Ungulates,” which, according to the story, “…remains a timely and important treatise as several states are enacting legislation allowing landowners to fence in wildlife, primarily ungulates, essentially making the animals private property. This strikes at the very foundation of the North American Model.”

Joining Demarais on this paper, who was a doctoral student at the time, is Dr. Randy De Young, currently assistant professor and research scientist at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

The late Dr. Sam Beasom, former director of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, also was recognized for his JWM paper, “A Technique for Assessing Land Surface Ruggedness,” from 1983. In the paper, Beasom and his co-authors describe how to index topographic relief for use as a covariate to explain habitat use and preference.

All papers were mentioned in an article in the fall 2012 issue of Wildlife Professional entitled, “Science in Print: Lifeblood of the Society: Key Papers that have Advanced the Wildlife Profession.”



This page was last updated on: December 18, 2012