Research Interests of Dr. John L. Hunt

My doctoral research, which I have continued since my graduation, is an investigation into the decline of lesser prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) in southeastern New Mexico.  The lesser prairie-chicken is one of a group of birds commonly called prairie grouse.  Its original geographic range extended across much of the Great Plains and the semi-arid grasslands of Texas and New Mexico.  Populations in Texas and New Mexico have undergone severe declines; my research concentrates on the area between Carlsbad, New Mexico and the Texas state line.  I am gathering data on the displaying grounds, or leks, of the male lesser prairie-chickens.  My research investigates the relationship between several variables, including vegetational and climatic information and data on human-caused disturbance, and the decline in populations of lesser prairie-chickens.  To learn more about lesser prairie-chickens, please click here.  If you would like to read my dissertation abstract, click here.  To read a paper on a population survey of lesser prairie-chickens, click here.

My master's research, completed in 1999, was a food-habits study of three southwestern desert birds:  scaled quail (Callipepla squamata), mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), and northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus).  I used the results of the food-habits study to search for evidence for competition between the three species.  If you would like to read my thesis abstract, click here.  To read a paper giving results of the study for scaled quail, click here.  To read a paper with results of the study for northern bobwhites, click here.  I am expanding on some of this research with Dr. Matthew Grilliot of Auburn University in Montgomery and a number of undergraduate students.  If you would like to read a paper explaining some of the results of this study, click here here, or here. One of my students, Paige Eddington, presented the results of some of this research for the 2021 virtual meeting of the Arkansas Academy of Sciences; to view her presentation, click here.

My other research interests include ecology and distribution of bats and rodents of the southeastern and southwestern United States and Mexico.  Along with my graduate advisor, Dr. Troy Best, and some of his other students, I co-authored several papers on Mexican mammals in the Mammalian Species series (see below for links to PDF files of some of these papers).  I am working with Dr. Chris Sims on a project involving conservation status of the anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) in ArkansasI also have assisted Dr. Sims on his ongoing study of the early life history of Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis).  Dr. Sims and I also observed the first greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) observed in Drew County; to read the paper about this, click here.  I worked with Dr. Mary Stewart on a project which involved comparing effects of several transgenic variants of a specific fruit fly gene.  I worked with Dr. Matt Grilliot and Dr. Chris Sims on a project examining residual banned pesticides in bats, rats, and other animals in southeastern Arkansas.  To read a paper with some of the results of this study, click here.   

Much of my current research involves student projects.  Douglas Holland and Laura Brown conducted a study involving reproductive information on Arkansas rodents.  Three of my students, Douglas Cagle, Heather Peek, and Chris Ellington, recently completed an investigation of reproductive cycles of Baird's pocket gopher (Geomys breviceps) in northern Louisiana, in conjunction with Matthew Connior, a scientist working at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Arkansas.  My undergraduate student, Bo Kelley, completed a study of dung beetles in southeastern Arkansas, also in conjunction with Matthew Connior.  Jim Renfroe, Stephen Cagle, Bobby Glaze and I completed a project in which we use road-killed animals as a method of surveying mammal populations.  Rebecca Barker and I completed a project studying quail populations in Sharp County, Arkansas. 

I assisted Dr. Kevin Smith of Davidson University in North Carolina with a paper that dealt with the use of avian spleens as indicators of the strength of immune systems.  If you'd like to read the paper, and have access to JSTOR, click here.

I am a member of the American Society of Mammalogists, the Arkansas Academy of Science, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the North American Grouse Partnership, the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network, and the Southwestern Association of Naturalists.

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Nyctomys Nyctomys sumichrasti  by J. L. Hunt, J. E. Morris, and T. L. Best.

E. bonariensis Eumops bonariensis by J. L. Hunt, L. A. McWilliams, T. L. Best, and K. G. Smith.

E. auripendulus Eumops auripendulus by T. L. Best, J. L. Hunt, L. A. McWilliams, and K. G. Smith.

E. dabbenei Eumops dabbenei by L. A. McWilliams, T. L. Best., J. L. Hunt, and K. G. Smith.

E. hansae Eumops hansae by T. L. Best, J. L. Hunt, L. A. McWilliams, and K. G. Smith.

E. maurus Eumops maurus by T. L. Best, J. L. Hunt, L. A. McWilliams, and K. G. Smith.