Effects Of Controlled Burning On Wild Turkey Poult Food Habits

Food habits of pen-raised wild turkey poults (Meleagris gallopavo silverstris), age 4-14 days, were studied for a 3-yr. period (1975-1977) in the loblolly pine-shortleaf pine (Pinus taeda, P. echinata, forest type in eastcentral Mississippi. Crop and gizzard contents of poults that fed on recently burned subplots (0.65 hal were compared to the contents of poults that fed on 3- and 4-yr.-old "roughs" or unburned subplots. Total animal food eaten (insects, spiders, snails, etc.) was significantly (P < 0.01) higher on burned subplots. Mean oven.dry weight of selected animal food eaten (insects and spiders), was not significantly different when recently burned areas werecompared to 3yr.- old "roughs." However, a highly significant (P < 0.01) difference was detected for recently burned subplots compared to 4-yr.-old "roughs" for selected animal food. Total plant food, mostly seeds of dewberry (Rubus trivialis) , was significantly (P <0.01) greater on unburned subplots. A 3-yr. burning rotation tor brood habitat management IS suggested. One-third of a griven forest compartment should be burned annually.

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