Date of Award

5-1-2011

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Zoology

First Advisor

Nielsen, Clayton

Second Advisor

Nawrot, Jack

Abstract

Most research on Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) has occurred in extensively forested habitats atypical of midwestern landscapes. I studied the ecology of female wild turkeys in a portion of southern Illinois consisting of an agricultural matrix interspersed with forest, and grassland cover types. I quantified causes of hen and nest mortality, nesting habitat variables, nesting rates, nest success, clutch and brood sizes, and incubation length. I also examined daily nest and weekly hen survival rates, and hen and brood home ranges and habitat selection. Sixty-four hens were radiomarked during 2008-10. Predation was the primary cause of nest mortality (80.5%) and hen mortality (100.0%). Coyotes (Canis latrans) were responsible for 40.3% of nest mortalities and 42.8% of hen mortalities, whereas bobcats (Lynx rufus) caused 42.8% of hen mortalities. Weekly survival rates were 98.7 and 98.6% for adult and juvenile hens, respectively. Seasonal survival rates for adult hens varied from 68.7% during breeding to 88.9% during winter. Most hens (98.5%) made a first nest attempt, 75.6% of hens attempted a second nest, and 8.0% of hens attempted a third nest. Mean clutch size was 12.4 ± 0.4 (SE throughout) during the first nesting attempt and 9.6 ± 0.6 during the second nesting attempt. The mean incubation length of successful nests was 31.1 ± 0.8 days. Mean nest success was 19.8%, producing 11.3 ± 3.3 poults/per

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