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Latitude and daily-weather effects on gobbling activity of wild turkeys in Mississippi

April 25, 2019

Weather has been recognized as a density independent factor influencing the abundance, distribution, and behavior of vertebrates. Male wild turkeys’ (Meleagris gallopavo) breeding behavior includes vocalizations and courtship displays to attract females, the phenology of which can vary with latitude. State biologists design spring turkey-hunting season frameworks centered on annual vocalization patterns to maximize hunter engagement. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has traditionally instituted a statewide, 7-week, spring harvest season. However, hunters routinely argue that different peaks in gobbling activity across the state exist. The objective of this study was to determine whether differences in peak gobbling activity existed across a latitudinal gradient of Mississippi and assess the effect of weather on gobbling. During 2008 and 2009, we conducted a statewide gobbling survey. We used generalized additive mixed models to describe the probability and frequency of gobbling activity within northern and southern regions of the state. We also investigated the effect of daily weather conditions on gobbling activity. Our results revealed an approximate 10–14-day difference in peak gobbling activity between southern and northern Mississippi. The majority of all gobbling activity occurred within the current spring harvest framework. Perhaps more importantly, gobbling activity was more prevalent on days of regionally dry conditions (i.e., less humid) according to the Spatial Synoptic Classification. Our results provide information on gobbling activity phenology relative to hunting-season dates and weather-response information. Our approach may be particularly applicable in states with relatively shorter seasons or highly variable daily weather conditions that moderate gobbling frequency.

Publication Year 2019
Title Latitude and daily-weather effects on gobbling activity of wild turkeys in Mississippi
DOI 10.1007/s00484-019-01720-2
Authors Matthew D. Palumbo, Francisco Vilella, Guiming Wang, Bronson K. Strickland, Dave Godwin, P. Grady Dixon, Benjamin D. Rubin, Marcus A. Lashley
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Biometeorology
Index ID 70193162
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta