Date of this Version
Nest Site Selection and Nest Survival of Eastern Wild Turkeys in a Pyric Landscape by N.A, Yeldell, B.S. Cohen, A.R. Little, B.A. Collier, M.J. Chamberlain. 11 pages, 2 figures, 4 tables. 2017.
Published in The Journal of Wildlife Management 81:6 (August 2017), pp 1073–1083.
Pine (Pinus spp.)-dominated forests are commonly managed with prescribed fire in the southeastern United States to reduce fuel loads, maintain diverse plant communities, and increase habitat quality for wildlife. Prescribed fire alters understory vegetation, which is a key component of nesting habitat for ground-nesting birds. We assessed the influences of vegetation, prescribed fire, and landscape features (e.g., roads, edge) on nest site selection and nest survival of eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in a pine-dominated ecosystem in west-central Louisiana. We radio-marked 55 female wild turkeys and evaluated vegetation and landscape characteristics associated with 69 nests during the 2014 and 2015 reproductive periods. We used conditional logistic regressions with matched-pairs case-control sampling and information-theoretic approaches to determine if vegetation characteristics within 15m of a nest site, distances to surrounding vegetation communities and edges, and prescribed fire history of patches where a nest was located influenced nest site selection. We calculated hazard ratios for covariates in our top-performing models to determine if any of these characteristics affected nest site survival. Turkeys in our study had a longer reproductive season and higher nesting and renesting rates relative to other populations in the southeastern United States. At the local scale, turkeys nested in areas with higher percent ground cover vegetation. At the landscape scale, turkeys nested closer to roads and farther from edges of 2 plant communities. Turkeys selected to nest in forest stands burned 2 years prior. Nest survival was not affected by percent ground cover, distance to roads, or distance to edge but was negatively associated with time-since fire; turkey nests in stands burned ≥3 years prior had lower survival than nests in stands burned the current year. We suggest that burning on a 3-year fire return interval is compatible with management for wild turkeys in southeastern pine-dominated forests.
Includes supporting information.