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Data from: Factors Influencing Productivity of Eastern Wild Turkeys in Northeastern South Dakota

Citation

Tyl, Reina; Rota, Christopher; Lehman, Chadwick (2021), Data from: Factors Influencing Productivity of Eastern Wild Turkeys in Northeastern South Dakota, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5dv41ns3d

Abstract

Population growth is highly sensitive to changes in reproductive rates for many avian species. Understanding how reproductive rates are related to environmental conditions can give managers insight into factors contributing to population change. Harvest trends of eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in northeastern South Dakota suggest an apparent decline in abundance in recent years.  We therefore investigate factors influencing reproductive success of this important game bird to identify potential factors contributing to this decline. We monitored nesting rate, nest survival, re-nesting rate, clutch size, hatchability, and poult survival of 116 eastern wild turkey hens using VHF radio-transmitters during the springs and summers of 2017 and 2018. Heavier hens were more likely to attempt to nest than lighter hens, and adult hens were more likely to re-nest than yearling hens. Nest survival probability was lowest in agricultural fields relative to all other cover types and positively related to horizontal visual obstruction and distance to the nearest road. Daily nest survival probability demonstrated an interaction between temperature and precipitation, such that nest survival probability was lower on warm, wet days, but lowest on dry days. Egg predation was the leading cause of nest failure, followed by haying of the nest bowl and death of the incubating hen. Poults reared by adult hens had a greater probability of survival than poults reared by yearling hens. Our estimate of survival probability of poults raised by yearling hens was low relative to other studies, which may be contributing to the apparent regional population decline. However, there is little managers can do to influence poult survival in yearling hens. Alternatively, we found nest survival probability was lowest for nests initiated in agricultural fields. Wildlife-friendly harvesting practices in the region such as delayed harvesting or installation of flushing bars could help increase productivity of eastern wild turkey in northeastern South Dakota.

Funding

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Award: Grant W- 75-R, Federal Aid Study 7564

The National Wild Turkey Federation, Award: NWTF Project No: 2.1.2017

The National Wild Turkey Federation, Award: NWTF Project No: 2.1.2017