Forest Soils And Game Nutrition

Early writings indicated that high soil fertility levels increased both quantity and quality of some wildlife species. More recent work has shown that factors other than soil fertility are also related to quality range for wildlife. Soils apparently have not been a limiting factor to turkey distribution in Missouri, since transplanted populations have done well on many soil types, even prairie soils. Weights of fawn whitetailed deer ranged from high in north Missouri to low in south Missouri, presumably reflecting a poorer quality of range in the Ozarks. However, chemical analyses of preferred deer foods collected from three soil areas did not reveal consistent differences which could be related to soil type or physical development of deer. Most native foods were of low quality. The increased physical development of deer in northern Missouri apparently resulted more from supplemental feeding on cultivated crops than from soil fertility. Digestibility of foods needs to be determined to more completely evaluate their worth. Several other studies have indicated that nutritive values of plants are not directly correlated with soil fertility but are influenced by many other factors. The major influence of soil fertility is expressed by the manner in which it influences the thinking of land managers. "As our soil goes-so goes wildlife." (Crawford-1949). This theme has been reiterated in different phraseology by wildlife workers in Missouri since the 1940's (Denny, 1944 and Crawford, 1946). The basic idea for this theme probably originated with University of Missouri soil scientist, Dr. William Albrecht, who preached "Quality not quantity"" protein not bulk". Dr. Albrecht (1949) believed that all life is the end product of the soil and that the distribution, health and survival of wildlife was related to the soil and its fertility. Studies of several wildlife species in Missouri added support to Dr. Albrecht's statements (Crawford-1950). The body weights of 8,180 raccoons collected from 95 Missouri counties showed a direct relationship to soil fertility ratings for the various counties. The number of raccoons harvested also was related to the soil fertility. The lowest harvest was taken from soils of relatively high fertility but not high enough to encourage intensive land use which reduced woody cover. Harvests, from the most fertile soils were slightly reduced because of intensive land use. The size and quality of opossum pelts was related to soil fertility of the area where the animals were taken. The largest pelts of best quality were taken on good (Union) soils. Intermediate pelts came from moderately fertile (Clarksville) soils. The poorest pelts came from low fertility (Hanceville and Lebanon) soils. Muskrat pelts from streams ranking highest in fertility were larger and of better quality than pelts from streams with low fertility.

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