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    Description

    Merriam’s wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo merriami) were introduced to the Black Hills approximately 40 years ago, and recent population estimates show a large and stable population. Until now, few studies have evaluated nesting ecology of Merriam’s turkeys, and none occurred in predominantly pure ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests. Thus, we studied nesting and nest habitat factors that influence population productivity using a hierarchical approach in the Black Hills, South Dakota. In contrast to other studies, yearling Merriam’s turkey hens showed a high propensity to nest. Nest survival for adult hens did not differ (P = 0.18) from yearlings, but adult hen success was higher (P = 0.03). April-June precipitation was positively related (R2 = 0.93, P < 0.01) to the number of nest attempts. Primary nest predators were mammals and American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos; hereafter referred to as crows). Among macrohabitats (third-order habitats), there were no (P = 0.45) patterns of nest site selection. Among microhabitats (fourth-order habitats), hens selected small sites (<5 m across) with obstructed view of the nest and vegetation averaging 2.3 dm tall. Few microhabitat differences occurred between successful and unsuccessful nests, and those that did were related to higher (P = 0.02) survival of third nest attempts. Our data indicate that availability of nest habitat was not limiting turkey populations in this area.

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    Citation

    Rumble, Mark A.; Hodorff, Robert A. 1993. Nesting ecology of Merriam''s turkeys in the Black Hills, South Dakota. Journal of wildlife management. 57(4): [789]-801

    Keywords

    Meleagris gallopavo merriami, Pinus ponderosa, Corvus brachyrhynchos, turkeys, nesting, habitat selection, microhabitats, Black Hills, South Dakota

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