Movements and Habitat Selection of Male Rio Grande Wild Turkeys during Drought in South Texas

Wildlife managers rely on accurate information regarding wild turkey habitat selection and use to appropriately structure management activities. We used integrated VHF-GPS transmitters to evaluate fine scale movements and habitat selection of male Rio Grande wild turkeys (Meleagris gal- lapavo intermedia) in south Texas. As our study coincided with the regions second worst recorded drought, we evaluated the influence of supplemental resources (supplemental feeding and managed surface water) on turkey distribution and movements. We deployed eight GPS units on adult male Rio Grande wild turkeys captured in south Texas during spring 2009. We classified land cover into three vegetative categories: bare ground/herbaceous (26%), thorn scrub (69%), and woody riparian (5%). Based on recovered GPS units from five individuals, we found that adult male Rio Grande wild turkeys used bare ground/herbaceous (49%) and woody riparian (41%) habitat types in much greater proportion than availability on the landscape. Our results also suggest that turkey locations were significantly closer to supplemental resources than random locations generated within the study area. Our results suggest that bare ground/herbaceous and woody riparian habitat types may be important for wild turkey populations in the south Texas plains region and supplemental resources will be actively selected for during severe drought years.

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