Wild Turkey Reproductive Parameters from Two Different Forest Ecosystems In Central Mississippi

Many pine (Pinus spp.) and pine-hardwood forests in the Southeast have been, and are being, converted to short-rotation (35 years) even-aged pine plantations. Effects of forest type conversion on wild turkey reproductive parameters have not been documented. Therefore, we compared reproductive performance of eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in central Mississippi between a forest system dominated by short rotation loblolly {P. taeda) pine plantations (Kemper County) and Tallahala Wildlife Management Area (TWMA), a more "natural" forest system managed by the U.S. Forest Service, during 1987-1994. TWMA experienced higher nest and renest initiation rates. Kemper County had higher initial nest success rates. Mean clutch size was higher on TWMA than on Kemper County, but total productivity did not differ. Hens on TWMA probably entered the reproductive period in better condition, thus enabling them to initiate more nests with larger clutches; however, TWMA had high nest predation rates which limited reproduction. Kemper County offset lower clutch sizes and initiation rates with increased nest success. Research and management implications, particularly concerning turkey/predator interactions, are discussed.

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