BRYAN, Texas—A Texas A&M research team has mapped the genome of the bobwhite quail as part of an effort to save the fast-disappearing popular game bird.

The Eagle of Bryan-College Station (http://bit.ly/1iHrthy) reports the group spent two years to finish what they call a "first draft genome assembly" for the chubby, robin-sized quail with a distinctive striped black head.

A 2007 Audubon Society study says the bobwhite population has plummeted from 31 million to 5.5 million. The reason for the declining population is in dispute, but destruction of its habitat is the one most commonly cited. The head of the research, A&M Assistant Professor Chris Seabury, says the team hopes the genome will offer clues to the decline.

The research is reported in the open-source science journal Plos One.

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Information from: The Eagle, http://www.theeagle.com