Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Reproduction in a declining population of wild turkeys in Arkansas
Thogmartin, W. E., and Johnson, J. E., 1999, Reproduction in a declining population of wild turkeys in Arkansas: Journal of Wildlife Management 63, v. 4, p. 1281-1290.
Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) abundance in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas has declined since 1987. We studied reproductive output of 106 radiotagged hens from 1993 to 1996 to understand factors likely responsible for this decline. Low rates of initiation of incubation (65% for adult and 53% for subadult hens), low nesting success (13%), and small clutch sizes (9.0/adult hen, 7.8/subadult hen) characterized the population. Mean hen success was 0.20 for adult hens and 0.10 for subadult hens. Survival of poults (34% at 2 weeks posthatch) and hens during the breeding season (Kaplan-Meier survival estimates = 74.8% for adults and 79.1% for subadults) was likely not responsible for the population decline. Heavier hens laid larger clutches and presumably entered the nesting season in better condition, leading to earlier initiation of incubation and greater probability of successful nesting. Hens entering the nesting season in poor condition reduced clutch size investment or delayed nesting. Management efforts aimed at increasing hen condition prior to nesting could produce increases in reproduction.
Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas