Date of this Version
Survival and cause-specific mortality of female eastern wild turkeys in two frequently-burned longleaf pine savannas by A.R. Little, J.F. Benson, M.J. Chamberlain, L.M. Conner, R.J. Warren. Wildlife Biology 22: 238–245, 2016
Longleaf pine savannas have declined throughout the southeastern United States due to land-use change. Fortunately, natural resource professionals are currently restoring these ecologically and economically important savannas. Although efforts are underway to restore longleaf pine savannas, little information exists on female eastern wild turkey Meleagris gallopavo silvestris population dynamics in these systems. Therefore, we evaluated survival and cause-specific mortality of female eastern wild turkeys in two longleaf pine savannas in southwestern Georgia. We radio-marked 126 female wild turkeys during 2010–2013 and monitored their survival; 66 (52.4%) radio-marked females died during the study. We estimated causes of death for 37 mortality events with predation serving as the leading known cause of mortality, with 35.1% of mortalities attributed to mesocarnivore predation (e.g., bobcat Lynx rufus, coyote Canis latrans, and gray fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and 18.9% to great-horned owl Bubo virginianus predation. One female (2.7%) was hit by a vehicle. Seasonal survival estimates varied from a high during fall (Ŝ = 0.94; 95% CI: 0.86–1.00) to a low during spring (Ŝ = 0.76; 95% CI: 0.68–0.87). Survival of incubating females was 0.82 (95% CI: 0.71–0.93) and survival of nonincubating females was 0.67 (95% CI: 0.52–0.87). Annual survival was 0.55 (95% CI: 0.44–0.67). To ensure sustainable wild turkey populations in longleaf pine savannas, we suggest managers monitor relationships between survival and population productivity.