Spatial Fidelity of Wild Turkeys Between the Seasons in Central Mississippi

Understanding space use patterns of wildlife may be useful to spatially plan habitat management options and understand how species use resources on a landscape. Spatial fidelity can be defined as the tendency of an animal to maintain similar space use patterns among periods of interest and can be described in terms of differences in dispersion of points and shift in central tendency. However, little information is available concerning spatial fidelity in wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Therefore, we investigated seasonal spatial fidelity of male and female eastern wild turkeys (M. g. silvestris) on the Tallahala Wildlife Management Area (TWMA) in central Mississippi during 1984-1996. We estimated dispersion between seasons as the mean distance between each location and the bivariate median. We estimated shifts in space use patterns as the distance between bivariate median centers for consecutive seasons. We also used habitat data to determine if habitat needs influenced observed fidelity patterns of males. Both sexes displayed spatial shift, dispersional differences, both shift and dispersion, or neither between consecutive seasons. Spatial shift may have been related to habitat preferences. Males had similar dispersion across seasons indicating consistent space use patterns. Decreased dispersion of locations during preincubation by females may have been related to concentrated searches for nest sites. Spatial shift between spring and summer for males may have been related to movements associated with spring breeding. Spatial shifts observed in a turkey population may be indicative of individuals seeking preferred habitat and may identify absent habitat type(s) or habitat association(s) in a given area.

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