Date of this Version
Habitat Selection of Wild Turkeys in Burned Longleaf Pine Savannas by A.R. Little, M.J. Chamberlain, L.M. Conner, R.J. Warren. The Journal of Wildlife Management; 10 pages, 1 figure, 3 tables. 2016.
Frequent prescribed fire (≤3 yr) and selective harvest of off-site hardwoods are the primary restoration and management tools for pine (Pinus spp.) savannas in the southeastern United States. However, a knowledge gap exists in our understanding of eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) habitat selection in longleaf pine savannas and research is warranted to direct our future management decisions. Therefore, we investigated habitat selection of female turkeys in 2 longleaf pine savanna systems managed by frequent fire in southwestern Georgia during 2011–2013. We observed differential habitat selection across 2 scales (study area and seasonal area of use) and 3 seasons (fall-winter: 1 Oct–30 Jan; pre-breeding: 1 Feb–19 Apr; and summer: 16 Jun–30 Sep). During fall-winter, turkeys selected mature pine, mixed pine-hardwoods, hardwoods, and young pine stands, albeit at different scales. During pre-breeding, turkeys selected for mature pine, mixed pine-hardwoods, hardwoods, young pine, and shrub-scrub, although at different scales. During summer, turkeys also demonstrated scale-specific selection but generally selected for mature pine, hardwoods, and shrub-scrub. Days-since-fire did not influence selection of stands managed by frequent fire (≤3 yr). In cases where female turkeys used pine-dominated stands (i.e., mature pine, young pine, and mixed pinehardwoods), selection was not influenced by days-since-fire; however, these results are at least partially due to a lack of longer burn rotations (>3 yr) on our study areas. We suggest land managers consider scale of selection by turkeys when developing habitat management strategies. In addition to creating early successional habitat conditions by using prescribed fire, we recommend managers retain hardwoods and recognize the importance of shrub-scrub cover to management of turkey populations in longleaf pine savannas.