Title page for ETD etd-04142005-103606

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Wilson, Walker Blake
Author's Email Address wwilso2@paws.lsu.edu
URN etd-04142005-103606
Title Seasonal Space Use, Habitat Preference and Survival of Female Wild Turkeys in a Louisiana Bottomland Hardwood Forest
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Renewable Natural Resources
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Michael J. Chamberlain Committee Chair
Frank C. Rohwer Committee Member
Sammy L. King Committee Member
  • mortality
  • resource use
  • core area
  • compositional analysis
Date of Defense 2005-04-08
Availability unrestricted
Female wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) were captured and radio-marked in a bottomland hardwood forest in south-central Louisiana. Turkeys were monitored using radio telemetry from fixed points on Sherburne Wildlife Management Area, Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, and Bayou des Ourses to observe seasonal patterns of space use, habitat preference and survival from 2002-04.

The largest mean seasonal home range of 902.87 ha occurred during preincubation (15 Feb 9 Apr; n = 24) when females typically search for suitable nest sites, and the smallest mean seasonal home range was 434.12 ha, during brood-rearing (1 Jun 30 Sep; n = 32) when movement was limited by poults. Abundant herbaceous plant communities, resulting from mild winters likely allowed reduced home ranges (621.84 ha) during fall-winter (1 Oct 14 Feb; n = 18), whereas limited nest sites increased space use during preincubation. Low nest initiation likely contributed to relatively large home ranges (495.91 ha) observed during incubation (10 Apr 31 May; n = 25).

Upland and lowland forests were selected by females when selecting home ranges, relative to habitat availability on the study area [1st order selection]. Lowland forest was selected during fall-winter, whereas upland forest was selected during the remainder of the year. Water-based forest, upland forest and openings were selected in core areas relative to habitats available in the home range [2nd order selection]. Openings were important during fall-winter and brood-rearing, whereas upland forest was selected during preincubation and water-based forest was preferred during incubation. Females consistently used water-based forest relative to habitat availability in their home ranges throughout the year [3rd order selection].

Mean annual survival was 0.59 from 6 March 2001 to 27 August 2004. Seasonal survival was greatest during preincubation (1.00) potentially due to increased habitat sampling and movement during this time period. Fall-winter survival was high (0.95), likely from mild winter climate and abundant herbaceous vegetation. Lowest survival occurred during incubation (0.80) and brood-rearing (0.85), primarily as a result of increased risks of predation associated with nesting and foraging broods.

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