Reproductive ecology of Rio Grande wild turkey in the Edwards Plateau of Texas



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The abundance of Rio Grande wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo intermedia) in the southeastern Edwards Plateau of Texas has declined since the late 1970s. Because knowledge of reproductive rates is important to understanding the dynamics of a population, radio-tagged hens were monitored during the 2005?2007 reproductive seasons to evaluate and compare reproductive parameters from areas with both declining and stable population trends. During January?March of 2005?2007, turkey hens were captured and radiotagged on 4 study areas; 2 within a region of stable turkey populations, and 2 within a region of declining populations. Monitoring occurred from January?July each season to determine nest- site locations. Nesting attempts, nest fate, clutch size, initiation date, and nest age were recorded. Nests were monitored ?3 times weekly in order to estimate production parameters and daily nest survival. Poults were captured by hand and fitted with a 1.2 glue-on transmitter and monitored daily to estimate daily survival. Estimates show production was greater in stable regions than declining regions of the Edwards Plateau. Eighty-four percent of hens attempted to nest in the stable region and 67% attempted in the declining region. Eighteen of 102 nests were successful (?1 egg hatched), in the stable region and 7 of 60 nests were successful in the declining region. Nest-survival analysis showed an influence of temporal variation within years, yet no differences in nest survival were detected between stable and declining regions. Poult survival also showed no difference between regions. The 2 overall objectives of this study were to determine if nesting parameters and nest survival were limiting factors in Rio Grande wild turkey abundance in the Edwards Plateau. Regional differences in production suggest the cause of the decline in the southeastern portion of the Edwards Plateau could be associated with lower reproductive output and consequently, success. Regional differences in nest survival were not detected, thus not likely to cause differences in turkey abundance between regions.