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Landscape and nest-site selection in Wild Turkeys of Arkansas

Thogmartin, W. E. 1999. Landscape and nest-site selection in Wild Turkeys of Arkansas. Auk 116(4):912-923.


Rates of nesting participation, renesting, and nesting success for Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) in the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas, are among the lowest recorded in the eastern United States. I studied spatial attributes of 113 Wild Turkey nests to determine landscape-scale habitat characteristics that were important for nest placement and survival. Hens generally nested close to roads in large pine patches that occurred on southeast-facing slopes. Hens selected shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata; 68.1%) over mixed hardwood (23.9%), hardwood (0.9%), and open areas (7.1%). Most of the hens (57.5%) placed their nests in edge habitat, but placement in these areas did not influence nesting success. Rather, female turkeys appeared to respond to a high risk of predation by placing nests in large patches, away from areas of high edge density favored by nest predators. Mean patch size chosen by nesting females (6,912.6 ± SE of 634.5 ha) was considerably larger than the mean patch size for the study area (31.4 ± 7.8 ha). Although most hens nested close to roads, this association appeared to be detrimental to nesting success because all nests close to roads were unsuccessful. In general, habitat characteristics examined at the level of patch and stand were good predictors of nest location but poor predictors of nesting success, possibly due to a high abundance of edge habitat in the landscape. This large amount of edge apparently sustained predator populations that made even the largest patches hazardous for nesting by Wild Turkeys. Therefore, the lack of suitable nest sites may limit population size of Wild Turkeys in the Ouachita Mountains.


nesting success, Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas,

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