Date of Award
Master of Science
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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