A new study by Southeast CASC-supported researchers suggests that eastern wild turkeys are unlikely to change their nesting timing in response to future climate change.
Wild Turkey Nesting Times are Unlikely to Shift with Climate
The eastern wild turkey is one of the most socially and economically valuable species in the United States, but population sizes in the south have been declining since 2009. A group of Southeast CASC-supported researchers, including Southeast CASC Research Ecologist Adam Terando, are trying to figure out why. Their new study, published in Climate Change Ecology, examined how climate change factors like temperature and rainfall are related to turkey reproduction— described by when turkeys nest and if eggs hatch. Using data spanning eight years, five states, and over 700 nests, the researchers predicted that nesting timing will change by less than three hours in future climates. In other words, nesting behavior will likely remain fairly constant despite future changes in temperature and precipitation. This could be a problem for turkey populations because the resources needed for successful reproduction, like food, are expected to become available earlier in the year, before their current nesting season.
Findings from this Southeast CASC study can inform management strategies for long-term turkey conservation, including the timing of hunting seasons.
This work is supported by the SE CASC Project “Assessing the Climate Vulnerability of Wild Turkeys Across the Southeastern U.S.”
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