Effects of Large Scale Growing Season Prescribed Burns on Movement, Habitat Use, Productivity, and Survival of Female Wild Turkey on the White Rock Ecosystem Restoration Project of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest
Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Biology (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Early Growing Season Prescribed Fire, Eastern Wild Turkey, Home Range, Meleagris Gallopavo Silvestris, Nest-site Selection, Woodland and Savanna Restoration
Restoration of woodland and savanna ecosystems has become a common management strategy in the Central Hardwoods region. Over the past two decades forest managers have implemented woodland and savanna restoration at the landscape level (≥10,000 ha), especially using early growing season prescribed fire. The implementation of the restoration strategy has coincided with declines of Eastern Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in many treated areas causing concern that early growing season prescribed fire was impacting wild turkey. We initiated our study to examine the effect of woodland and savanna restoration on the ecology and habitat of wild turkey in the Ozark Highlands. We used 67 female wild turkey fitted with 110 g Global Positioning System (GPS) Platform Transmitting Terminals between 2012 and 2013 to document nest-site selection and survival, estimate annual and seasonal home ranges, examine pre-incubation habitat use, and assess the impacts of management practices on forest structure. Nest-sites had higher visual concealment, higher slope, and more woody ground cover than non-nest-sites. We also found that wild turkey nest survival increased as the amount of visual concealment increased and survival decreased as the distance from a road increased. We documented wild turkey home ranges that were among the largest reported for the species and were larger than those documented before woodland and savanna restoration. We found wild turkey selected habitat during the pre-incubation period that was more diverse in canopy cover, in a transitional state and in small patches. Wild turkey subsequently selected habitat for nest-sites that had similar characteristics but were in larger patches. We also found that landscape level early growing season prescribed fire had not created woodland or savanna conditions across the landscape and likely would require more time (≥25 years). In conclusion wild turkey populations have not benefited from current woodland and savanna restoration. However, if restoration were having the desired outcome the impact on wild turkey population may be different. We provide a description of all variables used (Appendix I), morphometric and handling data for all captured wild turkey (Appendix II), data sets for nest-site selection (Appendix III), nest survival (Appendix IV), pre-incubation habitat selection (Appendix V), and vegetation data collected throughout the study area from 2011 to 2013 (Appendix VI).
Pittman, H. T. (2014). Effects of Large Scale Growing Season Prescribed Burns on Movement, Habitat Use, Productivity, and Survival of Female Wild Turkey on the White Rock Ecosystem Restoration Project of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/2173