Wild Turkey Brood Habitat Use in Fire-type Pine Forests

We studied habitat selection by radio-tagged eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) hens with broods ≤30 days old in the fire-maintained pine (Pinus) forests of southwestern Georgia from 1988 to 1990. Habitat selectivity was determined for 14 hen-poult groups that were tracked for 1 week or more. Hens with young broods preferred (P ≤ 0.05) oldfields and woodlands grazed by cattle. Bonferonni confidence intervals for individual hen-poult groups with >20 locations revealed considerable variation among individuals. Individual brood hens showed preferences (P ≤ 0.05) for oldfields, hardwoods, annually burned pinelands, andl grazed woodlands. Insect abundance in intensively used brood areas was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) greater than in typical winter-burned pinelands where no brood use was detected. For early brood habitat in Coastal Plain pine forests, we recommend providing oldfields or lightly grazed woodlands when possible in addition to frequently winter-burned pinelands.

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