Seasonal and Annual Home Ranges of Female Eastern Wild Turkeys in a Managed Pine Landscape in Mississippi

Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) are an important recreational resource throughout their range. Previous research has shown that intensively managed pine forests can sustain huntable populations of eastern wild turkeys. However, little research has examined patterns of spatial use of turkeys within these systems. An expected increase in acreage of intensively managed pine forests over the next half century requires a basic understanding of wild turkey ecology in these systems. Therefore, we used a long-term (1986-1993) data set to estimate annual and seasonal home range size of female eastern wild turkeys from a landscape dominated by intensively managed pine forests in east-central Mississippi. Mean seasonal home range size was 406 ha ± 20 ha (mean ± SE; N = 268). Home ranges were larger during fall-winter (524 ± 43.5 ha) than preincubation (326 ± 23.2 ha) and summer (392 ± 32.5 ha). Average annual home range size was 796 ha ± 46.0 ha and was smaller in 1993 (P < 0.05) than other years. We documented wide variability in seasonal and annual home ranges likely in response to localized resource availability and individual female behavior. For some females, home range size was affected by seasonal movements between intensively managed pine stands in spring and summer and a large bottomland hardwood and agriculture complex during fall-winter. Managers need to understand movements within home ranges to better understand spatial use by wild turkeys. We suggest managers consider spatial distribution of vegetation types, particularly mature hardwoods, important to turkeys when making management decisions. Key words: home range, Meleagris gallopavo silvestris, Mississippi, pine silviculture, spatial use, wild turkey

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