Habitat Characteristics of Wild Turkey Nest Sites in Central Mississippi

Nest success strongly influences wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) reproduction. Understanding selection of nesting habitats may provide information for management opportunities to increase turkey nest success. Therefore, we examined the landscape scale habitat selection of wild turkey hens during nesting. A logistic regression model with 89 nest locations and 89 random locations indicated an intercept term, elevation, and distances to mature pine burned ≤3 years ago and mature pine not burned within 3 years differed significantly (P<0.04) between used and random sites. Nest success was higher in mature pine stands (36.1%) than in regeneration stands (P=0.04; 11.1%), but no difference in nest success was detected between bottomland (18.8%) and upland habitats (34.8%; P=0.214). Distance to edge did not influence nest success. Higher densities of carnivore prey in regeneration stands may increase probability of nest/predator interactions, thus decreasing nest success in this habitat type. Providing mature pine stands, burned on a 3-year rotation and juxtaposed with riparian areas and bottomland hardwood stands may increase nest success on our study area.

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