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Wild Turkey Population Dynamics in Southwestern Wisconsin
Robert E. Rolley, John F. Kubisiak, R. Neal Paisley and Robert G. Wright
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 62, No. 3 (Jul., 1998), pp. 917-924
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802543
Page Count: 8
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We studied the population dynamics of eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) in southwestern Wisconsin during 1987-94 to better understand the effects of variation in reproduction and fall harvest on growth of a northern population. We combined yearly estimates of reproduction, survival, and population size in a stochastic population model to estimate the finite rate of increase of the population. Our model indicated recruitment during 1989-92 was inadequate to offset observed mortality: the finite rate of increase was 0.831 ± 0.09 (x̄ ± SE). The simulated trend was corroborated by declines in spring harvest success and observations of turkeys by deer hunters. We illustrate that population growth is affected by variation in both reproduction and fall harvest rates. The population decline was apparently caused by reduced recruitment in combination with reduced hen survival associated with initiation of fall hunting. The decline in recruitment was associated with cold and wet spring weather (r2 = 0.92, P < 0.001). Analysis of 103 years of weather data suggested the low level of recruitment observed during 1989-92 may be representative of the long-term recruitment potential of this population. More conservative harvest strategies may be appropriate for northern populations.
The Journal of Wildlife Management © 1998 Wiley