Wild turkey reproductive ecology and survival in the urban environment. PhD Dissertation Defense by Karl Tinsely

Date: Wednesday, October 8th

Time:  9 am

Place: 203 Green Hall

Abstract

Once extirpated from large portions of it historic range, the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) serves as a prime example of a conservation success.  As North America’s largest game bird, the species represents a valuable recreational asset in many rural areas throughout the United States and Canada.  As such, research has traditionally focused on habitat quality and species demographics in rural settings.  Wild turkeys, however, have recently colonized urban areas, residing in habitat once thought of as unsuitable.  As wild turkeys increasingly enter the urban setting, the species is coming into conflict with human residences.  An important first step in understanding a species response to new or changing environments is understanding the influence on the species demographics and use of this habitat.  For the wild turkey, we will need a basic understanding of these traits in order to effectively manage urban populations.  Additionally, the wild turkey offers us the opportunity to gain insights into broader questions regarding the effects of urbanization on ground nesting species.

My research addresses how wild turkey demographics and habitat use may change in response to differing urban intensities.  For three years, I monitored wild turkey habitat use, survival, and nesting behavior using radio-equipped birds at three study areas across the Twin Cities metropolitan area.  For this study I examined:  1) reproductive measures, 2) nest site characteristics, 3) survival, 4) cause-specific mortality, 5) home range characteristics, and 6) habitat use.  For this lecture I plan to present my nesting ecology and survival data.  I will discuss several reproductive measures, including percent nesting, clutch size and hatch rate differences between my study sites, as well as nesting area traits.  Lastly I will review survival and cause-specific mortality of urban turkeys, focusing my discussion on survival during the reproductive period.

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