Title page for ETD etd-08012012-040629

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Morgan, John T.
URN etd-08012012-040629
Title Overwinter survival of wild turkeys on central Virginia's industrial forests
Degree Master of Science
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Vaughan, Michael R. Committee Chair
Bromley, Peter T. Committee Member
Stauffer, Dean F. Committee Member
  • Wild turkey
Date of Defense 1989-05-05
Availability restricted
Overwinter survival of wild turkeys on industrial forests managed for short-rotation pines (treatment) and typical Piedmont forests and farmland (control), was investigated in Virginia’s

central Piedmont during 1986-1988. Ninety-six percent of the turkeys (N =106) were captured

in early fall with alpha-chloralose laced bait. Sixty-three percent of the captured turkeys

recovered and were released with transmitters; 15% were released without transmitters; and

21% died from capture related causes.

Overwinter survival for all turkeys was <2% regardless of area or year. Daily survival

was lower on the control areas (P < 0.01), however, due to the small (13) and scattered

sample of turkeys captured over the 3 years on control areas, these data were omitted from

further analyses. Daily survival on treatment areas over the 3 years was 97.6%. Thirty-seven percent of radio-equipped turkeys on treatment areas died within 2 weeks of release

suggesting that factors related to the trapping process influenced survival. Possibilities

considered were residual effects from alpha-chloralose, capture myopathy, and/or a negative

effect from the transmitter and/or harness. Four weeks after release daily survival rates

improved significantly (P < 0.01) indicating the influence from trapping had subsided.

While hardwoods composed 38% of the primary treatment area, 65% of turkeys died in

hardwood stands; predation accounted for 81% ofthe turkey mortality (N =42). Field evidence

and necropsy results plus scent station data indicated that gray foxes (Urocyon

cinereoargenteus) were the main turkey predators. Fox scats contained no detectable turkey

remains but indicated that eastern cottontails (Silvilagus floridanus) were a primary prey species.

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