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Data from: Gobbling across landscapes: Eastern wild turkey distribution and occupancy-habitat associations

Cite this dataset

Pollentier, Christopher et al. (2022). Data from: Gobbling across landscapes: Eastern wild turkey distribution and occupancy-habitat associations [Dataset]. Dryad.


Extensive restoration and translocation efforts beginning in the mid-20th century helped to reestablish eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) throughout their ancestral range.  The adaptability of wild turkeys resulted in further population expansion in regions that were considered unfavorable during initial reintroductions across the northern United States.  Identification and understanding of species distributions and contemporary habitat associations are important for guiding effective conservation and management strategies across different ecological landscapes.  To investigate differences in wild turkey distribution across two contrasting regions, heavily forested northern Wisconsin, USA, and predominately agricultural southeast Wisconsin, we conducted 3,050 gobbling call-count surveys from March–May 2014–2018 and used multiseason correlated-replicate occupancy models to evaluate occupancy-habitat associations and distributions of wild turkeys in each study region.  Detection probabilities varied widely and were influenced by sampling period, time of day, and wind speed.  Spatial autocorrelation between successive stations was prevalent along survey routes but were stronger in our northern study area.  In heavily forested northern Wisconsin, turkeys were more likely to occupy areas characterized by moderate availability of open land cover.  Conversely, large agricultural fields decreased the likelihood of turkey occupancy in southeast Wisconsin, but occupancy probability increased as upland hardwood forest cover became more aggregated on the landscape.  Turkeys in northern Wisconsin were more likely to occupy landscapes with less snow cover and a higher percentage of row crops planted in corn.  However, we were unable to find supporting evidence in either study area that abandonment of turkeys from survey routes was associated with snow depth or with the percentage of agricultural cover.  Spatially, model-predicted estimates of patch-specific occupancy indicated turkey distribution was nonuniform across northern and southeast Wisconsin.  Our findings demonstrate that the environmental constraints of turkey occupancy varied across the latitudinal gradient of the state with open cover, snow, and row crops being influential in the north, and agricultural areas and hardwood forest cover important in the southeast.  These forces contribute to non-stationarity in wild turkey-environmental relationships.  Key habitat-occupancy associations identified in our results can be used to prioritize and strategically target management efforts and resources in areas that are more likely to harbor sustainable turkey populations.

Usage notes

Variables in PRESENCE input files have been standardized.


Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Award: ST5-SSWF-WKAC