Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Home-range size and habitat selection in wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) of Arkansas
Thogmartin, W. E., 2001, Home-range size and habitat selection in wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) of Arkansas: American Midland Naturalist 145, v. 2, p. 247-260.
Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in the Ouachita Highland Province of westcentral Arkansas have some of the largest reported home ranges for this subspecies. Previous research on wild turkeys has generally attributed large home-range size to forage abundance or quality. However, limitations in reproduction by wild turkeys in the Ouachitas may influence home-range size and habitat selection. To discern factors governing home-range size, I examined habitat use by 54 female wild turkeys from 1993 to 1996. Short-leaf pine (Pinus echinata) and mixed pine-hardwood sawtimber were selected over other overstory cover types, whereas blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), red maple (Acer rubrum) and white oak (Quercus alba) were favored in the understory. Mean fixed kernel home- range size during the breeding season was 18.9 km super(2), the largest reproductive period home range reported for the eastern subspecies. Home-range size varied as a function of age, body mass, reproductive status and the structure of selected habitats. Subadult females occupied larger home ranges (x = 32.0 km super(2), SE = 7.0) than adult females (16.3 plus or minus 1.7 km super(2)) and moved greater distances between nest sites in subsequent years (8.9 plus or minus 1.8 km vs. 2.4 plus or minus 1.1 km, respectively). After removing effects of age, heavier females occupied smaller home ranges than lighter females. Nesting individuals occupied less area than non-nesters, and female turkeys that occupied smaller areas avoided stands of seedlings and saplings in favor of mature pole timber. Taken together, effects of physiological condition and experience influenced home-range size in female wild turkeys in westcentral Arkansas.
Keywords: eastern wild turkies, westcentral Arkansas, Ouachita Highland Province