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Wednesday, October 19 • 11:00am - 11:20am
Wildlife. Influence of prescribed fire on habitat selection and reproductive ecology of female eastern wild turkeys in west-central Louisiana

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AUTHORS: Nathan A. Yeldell, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Michael J. Chamberlain, University of Georgia; Bradley S. Cohen, University of Georgia; Andrew R. Little, University of Georgia

ABSTRACT: Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) inhabit southeastern pine-dominated ecosystems managed with prescribed fire. It is unclear how fire disturbance affects resource selection and reproductive behavior of female turkeys throughout the reproductive period. Our objectives were to 1) examine reproductive parameters of female wild turkeys, 2) evaluate vegetative characteristics at nest sites, 2) assess the influence of prescribed fire on habitat selection, and 4) examine space use relative to recent fire disturbance at Kisatchie National Forest, 2014 and 2015. Nesting rate was 87%, nest success was 15%, and brood survival was 30%. Nest sites were positively associated with ground level vegetation, proximity to roads, and distance from forest ecotones. Random sampling of available areas within home ranges suggested turkeys favored nest sites in stands burned 2 years prior and avoided nesting in stands burned ≥3 years prior. Habitat selection varied throughout the reproductive period. Females selected hardwoods in late winter, recently burned mature pines prior to initial nest incubation, and mixed forests and open habitats prior to second nest incubation. Female with broods avoided hardwoods. Predictive models of probability of turkeys using recently burned stands suggested use of burns peaked at 106 days post-fire before declining. Within recently burned stands, turkeys were more likely to use space near the perimeter of burns, but the effect of distance to perimeter decreased with time-since-fire.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 11:00am - 11:20am
Louisiana Room

Attendees (9)