Habitat Ecology and Management


  • How Do Wetland Birds Respond to Habitat Variables Associated with Wetland Restoration? An Evaluation of Wetland Reserve Program Easements in Western Kentucky and Tennessee*
  • David Hicks; Jon Podoliak; Lisa Webb
    The Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) enrolls private lands in conservation easements and seeks to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program. Restoration activities on WRP sites often focus on improving wildlife habitat that supports hunted species such as migratory waterfowl but it is uncertain how restoration methods affect non-game waterbird communities (Charadriiformes, Gruiformes, Ciconiiformes, and Podicipediformes). As waterfowl hunter numbers decline, conservation focused on providing the greatest wetland functions and values may need to focus on non-game species as well. Our objective was to assess how waterfowl and non-game waterbird richness and abundance are related to the water depth, vegetative cover, and vegetation species composition on WRP easements in western Tennessee and Kentucky. We sampled avian communities and habitat variables in four distinct habitat types; remnant forests, tree plantings, natural woody regeneration, and constructed shallow water areas (SWA), on 37 study sites to assess seasonal responses of avifauna to habitat variables. Data from the first two sampling rounds (collected in October 2019 and February 2020) indicate that mean waterfowl richness on sites was 1.36 (±1.45) and mean waterbird richness was 0.26 (±.059). Mean abundances of waterfowl and waterbirds were 10.44 (±16.07) and 0.40 (±0.93) respectively. Water depth was positively associated with both waterfowl species richness (F = 9.109, R2 =.114, P=.004) and abundance (F = 1.977, R2=.02, P = .17). Waterbird abundance was positively associated with percent submersed plant cover (F = 4.44, R2 = .08, P = .04) while waterbird richness was negatively associated with percent vegetative coverage (F = 1.959, R2 = .015, P = .167). Data collection is ongoing and planned through spring 2021. Evaluation of wetland bird responses to habitat variables on WRP easements may serve to inform future wetland restoration activities.

  • Does Intercropping Switchgrass in Private, Working Pine Forests Affect Avian Diversity and Abundance*
  • Rebecca Bracken; Daniel Greene; Darren Miller; Scott Rush
    Wildlife conservation on private, working forests has received increased recognition in recent years, especially for at-risk species, including many songbirds. Although forest management effects on avian diversity and abundance have received much attention, less is known about effects of alternative practices, such as intercropping switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) for biofuel, within managed loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) stands. We tested the hypothesis that intercropping switchgrass alters species composition relative to non-intercropped stands (control). We conducted point counts within both loblolly pine stands intercropped with switchgrass and controls for 9 years within a forest landscape consisting predominantly of loblolly pine stands in Kemper County, Mississippi. We surveyed 5 blocks of each treatment, 3 surveys each per treatment, with 5 replicates each year. We compared number of detections of each bird species within intercropped and control treatments for each year. We detected 69 species, with 71% overlap in species assemblages between intercropped and control plots. We detected 11 species, including Sedge Wren (Cistothorus stellaris) and Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna), only in switchgrass plots. We detected 9 species, including Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) and Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum), only in control plots. We found little effect of switchgrass on abundance of individual species. Further evaluation of interplay between local and landscape features will be explored within working forests to best apply management practices to optimize performance of these systems relative to forest production and conservation goals.

  • Riparian Vegetation Community Response to Bison Restoration in the Northern Great Plains*
  • Sze Wing Yu; Kyran Kunkle; Donald Hagan; David Jachowski
    The American bison has been re-introduced throughout North America since its near-extirpation in the 1800s. However, most herds are small, isolated, and no longer play a significant ecological role in the grassland ecosystem. In 2001, the nonprofit American Prairie Reserve was established to create a 3.5 million acre reserve in the Northern Great Plains of Montana with a large restored herd of plains bison (Bison bison bison) capable of fulfilling its historic ecological role. The reserve has grown to over 400,000 acres with over 800 bison. Much of its acreage is leased from the Bureau of Land Management that typically leases land for seasonal cattle grazing. The use of these lands to graze bison has caused controversy in the region. Public concerns include the impacts of bison restoration on range health and wildlife habitats, especially in riparian areas that are highly valuable for wildlife but sensitive to overgrazing. Our study’s objective is to compare the response of the riparian vegetation community to continuous year-round bison grazing versus seasonally rotational cattle grazing. We use transect-based surveys to assess riparian plant species richness, diversity, and structure in adjacent bison and cattle sites with 2 cattle treatment sites and 5 bison treatment sites of varying times since reintroduction. Preliminary results from our first field season suggest that riparian vegetation communities have responded similarly to grazing by both species. However, exotic plant species richness was significantly higher in the cattle treatments than in the bison treatments (p = 0.015, F = 7.123). In general, riparian communities were diverse with 75 encountered plant species from 18 families. Once completed with a second field season, our study will inform decision-making about using public lands for bison in this region.

  • Effects of Habitat Restoration on Density and Habitat Selection of Sitka Black-Tailed Deer in the Tongass National Forest, Southeast Alaska*
  • Lydia M. Druin; Lisette P. Waits; Jennifer R. Adams; Bonnie Bennetsen; Sophie L. Gilbert
    Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) are the northwestern-most mule deer subspecies and are of high socioeconomic and ecological importance in Alaska’s temperate coastal rainforest. This species relies on old-growth forest stands aged >150 years old for shelter and forage availability during deep-snow winters, but much of these forests have been logged throughout southeast Alaska, including over 40,000ha on Prince of Wales Island. Resulting successional stages >20 years old have reduced forage availability due to closed canopy, even-aged stands, and deer have declined in density in these areas as a result. To mitigate or reverse the effects of canopy closure, artificial canopy gap treatments have been shown to increase forage on the landscape through increasing light on the forest floor and subsequent understory growth. However, deer density and habitat selection response to these gaps is unknown. To fill this gap in knowledge, we collected spatial capture-recapture data via fecal DNA for an estimated 50 individuals in the Staney Creek watershed of Prince of Wales Island, comprising both a canopy-gapped treatment area and a nearby untreated control area. We will use this data to quantify the number of likely deer home-ranges in the treatment and control areas in the coming months. In combination with data from 85 motion-triggered and time-lapse cameras across the treatment and control areas, this data will provide insights on deer density in and selection for gap, matrix or control forest. Our results will provide new insight into the efficacy of this habitat restoration treatment for deer, the target species of gap treatments.

  • Effects of Forest Management on Early-Successional Avian Species in South Carolina*
  • Michael Adams; Amy Tegeler; Michael Hook; Michael Small; Beth Ross
    Early-successional habitats are a critical habitat type for ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) and golden-winged warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera). In South Carolina, early-successional habitats have declined over the last 70 years, and the extent of which ruffed grouse and golden-winged warblers use habitat in the state remains unknown. The goal of this project is to assess the status and distribution of golden-winged warblers and ruffed grouse in the Blue Ridge of South Carolina. We also aim to determine how management of early-successional habitats influences presence/absence of ruffed grouse and golden-winged warblers on public lands, and to evaluate the use of Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs) to detect and monitor both species. Additionally, we are monitoring blue-winged warblers (Vermivora cyanoptera) and prairie warblers (Setophaga discolor) as indicators of early-successional habitat. Using a conditional occupancy design, we are conducting point count surveys for ruffed grouse (March – April 2020 and 2021) and golden-winged warblers (May – June 2020 and 2021) at sites representing varying degrees of timber harvest management and controlled burning intensity. If a species is detected on a visit, we return to survey this site again. If there is no detection, we select a new site to survey on subsequent surveys. ARUs are placed at sites with and without positive detections of our target species. To evaluate the efficacy of ARUs to detect these species, we resurvey the site at least once simultaneously with an ARU recording. The results of this project will provide occupancy estimates for ruffed grouse and golden-winged warblers in South Carolina. Since golden-winged warblers are proposed to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, knowing if they occur in South Carolina will better prepare managers for a potential listing decision. This project will also help inform habitat management for both species and provide guidelines for future monitoring protocols.

  • Value of Permanent Forest Openings to Rocky Mountain Elk in Wisconsin*
  • Anna Brose; Timothy Van Deelen; Jennifer Merems; Jennifer Price-Tack
    The importance of open areas with early successional forage species has been well documented in elk (Cervus elaphus). In the Great Lakes region, the pre-settlement mosaic of grasslands, open woodlands, and closed forests have largely shifted to human-dominated land uses (agriculture, urban areas) and dense forest stands. Using existing elk telemetry data and new vegetation sampling, we are evaluating the use and habitat quality of managed forest openings relative to other forest types in Wisconsin’s Northern Elk range to inform management decisions and allocation of resources. Specifically, we are examining whether elk selectively use forest openings on landscape- and home range-scales, and whether different opening management techniques produce different forage value to elk. We emphasize the use of cross-discipline techniques, including standard habitat assessment techniques as well as landscape ecology metrics. This project emphasizes the value of academy-agency partnerships and science-based management recommendations.

  • Wetland Soil Texture Analyses for Improved Understanding of Turtle Habitat and Distribution*
  • Megan Tenney; Darien Lozon; James T. Anderson
    Soil texture is one of the most important physical properties of soil because it determines the amount of water, air, and nutrients available for plant growth. This is determined by calculating the relative proportion of sand, silt, and clay within the soil. Wetland soil is differentiated from upland soils due to its water saturation to near or above the soil surface for a significant part of the year. This can lead to the limitations of oxygen diffusion deep in the soil. Different soil textures can influence wetland hydrology, vertebrate distribution, and the growth of plant species. Soil texture is essential in the evaluation of wetland conservation sites as native species are more likely to be found in clay soils and sandy soils can lead to the invasion of exotic species. We are interested in how soil texture influences habitat use and distribution of snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina). However, different methods of soil particle analysis are used to determine soil texture and can vary in terms of accuracy and complexity To investigate the variability between methods, soil samples from 39 wetlands in north-central West Virginia, will be collected and analyzed utilizing four different methods of soil particle analysis (i.e., sieve, hydrometer, jar measuring, and sieve-hydrometer methods). Soil type will be compared to the United States Department of Agriculture Web Soil Survey for additional comparison. This study will improve our understanding of levels of accuracy across different methods and determine if complexity is necessary to increase accuracy.

  • Assessing Multi-Scale Habitat Relationships and Responses to Forest Management for Cryptic Herpetofauna in the Missouri Ozarks
  • Shelby Timm; Alexander Wolf; Xiaoming Gao; Kenneth Kellner
    Cryptic or uncommon herpetofauna are often understudied due to the extensive effort it requires to obtain adequate data for statistical analysis. Additionally, potential impacts from forest management on these already small or difficult to study populations may have a dissimilar effect in comparison to more common species. To address this, we examined species-specific responses of less common herpetofauna within the Missouri Ozarks to even-aged and uneven-aged silvicultural systems at multiple scales, as well as their habitat associations. Using capture histories collected over 23 years (1992-2014) on the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) we examined the cumulative effects of two harvest entries (1996 and 2011) at both the local- (stand-level) and landscape-scale (compartment-level) for eight uncommon amphibian and reptile species. We modeled capture probabilities with respect to multiple habitat- and harvest-related covariates. Three species showed compartment-level declines in the post-treatment period, however only two of the declines appeared to be related to forest management; the decline for the third species was observed in both treatment and control compartments suggesting that the cause was environmental. In contrast to compartment-level responses, we observed stand-level responses in five species, mostly positive. In general, our observed declines were minimal and currently we have no concerns that forest management will lead to the loss of any of the less common herpetofauna species considered here. Our models showed habitat associations for multiple species, which aids our understanding of species’ life history strategies and can also guide future management efforts.

  • Conservation Implications of Invasive Species and Urban Forest Size on the Movement Patterns and Habitat Selection of Eastern Box Turtles*
  • Nolan J. Sawtelle; Dr. Omar Attum
    We considered the effect of invasive plant species and urban forest size on the movement patterns and habitat selection of the Eastern Box Turtle. Eastern box turtle populations are believed to be declining as a result of reduced habitat and invasive species. Previous work on Eastern box turtles has failed to address whether small urban forests can support viable and healthy turtle populations. We studied the movement patterns and habitat use of Eastern box turtles in Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve, Louisville, KY using telemetry. We found no evidence of box turtle selection of native microhabitat (distance to nearest shrub, largest DBH of standing and fallen trees, canopy cover) and invasive species (percent creeping charlie and wintercreeper ground cover, density of bush honeysuckle taller than one meter). We did, however, find that box turtles avoided areas of the preserve with high densities of bush honeysuckle less than one meter tall. Roughly 43 % of this urban forest may be unsuitable habitat for box turtles because of high densities of bush honeysuckle less than one meter tall. We suggest that continual management of invasive species is vital to maintaining box turtle populations in urban forests.

  • Using Global Positioning System Collars to Assess the Impact of Livestock Grazing on the Greater Sage Grouse*
  • Taylor Fletcher; Jason Karl; Courtney Conway; Vincent Jansen; Eva Strand
    Understanding the short and long-term effects of domestic livestock grazing is essential to effective rangeland management, however, current estimations of livestock use rely largely upon in-field measurements that may lack precision and uniformity. Our first objective was to develop an estimate of grazing intensity that could be used to validate and supplement in-field measurements using locations taken from a large number Global Positioning System (GPS) cattle collars. Our second objective was to use the GPS derived estimate of livestock use to determine if an impactful relationship exists between domestic livestock distribution and movement and Greater Sage Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; GRSG) nesting behavior. Thus far, approximately 150 low-cost GPS collars have been allocated amongst three study sites within the ongoing Idaho Grouse and Grazing project where sage grouse demographic data has been concurrently collected. Collars were randomly assigned to individuals within herds in spring grazed pastures with start dates ranging from mid-April to early May. Collars were left on for the duration of the herd’s time in the pasture, with location data taken every ten minutes and saved to an internal data card. For each spring grazed pasture, collar locations were overlaid on a 30x30m pasture grid. The number of GPS fixes that occurred within each cell were summed and relativized to create a total grazing intensity surface. Each relativized cell within the total grazing intensity surface was binned into a range of percent grazing intensity. Confirmed GRSG nest sites and fates were then tallied according to their nest location’s corresponding grazing intensity to determine, first, if hens make nest site selections based on the landscape’s degree of grazing intensity, and second, if nest fate is influenced by the landscape’s degree of grazing intensity.

  • Effects of Timber Management on Mammalian Communities in Xero-Hydric Flatwood and Bottomland Hardwood Forests*
  • Evan G. Barr; Andrea Darracq; Jordan Tandy; Brianna Gibbons; Elliott Clouse
    Negative public views and lack of funding have limited the actions of natural area managers attempting to implement management plans. Some negative public views stem from a lack of proper monitoring following timber management to demonstrate that the management has met management plan objectives for wildlife. The Clark’s River National Wildlife Refuge (CRNWR), located in Benton, KY, is made up of 11 units containing xero-hydric flatwood (XHF) and bottomland hardwood (BLH) forests. To improve forest conditions, CRNWR began planning and implementing timber management, mostly consisting of forest thinning and patch cuts, in summer 2019 and they will continue implementation of their plan over the next five years. Our objective is to evaluate the effects of timber management within XHF and BLH forests on mammalian populations. We placed cameras at 85 random points with 500 m spacing on CRNWR and attempted to cover each XHF and BLH forest stand where timber management will be implemented and additional control areas where timber management will not occur. We began sampling in September 2019 and will continue sampling each summer/fall and winter/spring before and after management to produce a long-term data set. In addition to other potential analyses, we will monitor changes in activity and occupancy of mammals in response to timber management. Our results can help provide information to land managers and the public about the importance of timber management to mammals.

  • Pilot Study Examining the Distribution and Habitat Associations of the Eastern Spotted Skunk in Tennessee*
  • Lindsay E. Shaw; Emma V. Willcox; Mallory E. Tate; Daniel Benson
    Over the past several decades, Spilogale putorius (eastern spotted skunk) has seen significant population declines across its historical range. In Tennessee, S. putorius is listed as a species of greatest conservation need; however, little is known about its occurrence, distribution, and habitat associations in the region. During the winter of 2020, we collaborated with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to conduct a pilot project examining the occurrence and habitat associations of S. putorius on three wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the state. To determine occurrence, we randomly located 36 baited remote cameras, >1.5 km apart, across these three WMAs. We checked and rebaited camera locations every two weeks from January 1 – March 31, 2020 and at each check downloaded and examined all photos for signs of S. putorius presence. We defined a sampling occasion as a 24-hour interval and a detection as any number of S. putorius images collected at an individual camera during a sampling occasion. Over our 3-month sampling period, we had 54 S. putorius detections, with the species photographed at 11 of our 36 cameras and on two of our three WMAS. Due to the success of this pilot project, our study will be expanded statewide in 2021. As we continue to collect additional data, we will explore habitat associations by examining the effect of landscape-level characteristics on the probability of S. putorius occurrence using a single-species occupancy framework and remotely-sensed geographic information system layers derived using ArcMap. Landscape-level characteristics we will consider include, but are not limited to, elevation, land cover type, canopy cover, stand age, stand size, percent rocky outcroppings, and distance to road, water sources, and agricultural areas. These results will be used to develop a map of predicted S. putorius occupancy in Tennessee that will be used to inform species conservation efforts.

  • Patterns in Bobwhite Quail Occupancy Over 15 Years Across the State of Arkansas, Usa
  • Grace Christie; Marcus Asher; Connor Gale; Andrhea Massey; Cody Massery; Christopher Middaugh; Ellery Ruther; John Veon; Brett DeGregorio
    Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) populations have been rapidly declining across their natural range in the eastern, central, and southern United States for decades. Estimates of range-wide decline calculated by the Breeding Bird Survey indicate an annual loss of 3%, with the most dramatic declines reported from the southeastern US. Regional variation in the severity of the population decline indicates locality-specific causes. Existing models of landscape factors on bobwhite populations may not be generalizable due to local variation in habitat types and land use. Many of these studies have focused on abundance rather than occupancy, meaning that the study of the mechanistic basis of bobwhite-landscape relationships is needed to better guide conservation through habitat creation and management. To address the limitations of past modeling studies concerning habitat-scale effects on bobwhite populations, we built an occupancy model capable of handling a zero-inflated data set. Occupancy models are particularly useful when answering questions about species in decline, given their ability to account for incomplete detection. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) has been monitoring bobwhite using presence-absence surveys for approximately the last 15 years. Using their available survey data, habitat variables identified as critical to bobwhite populations by the AGFC, and the model we have built, we examined how bobwhite habitat and occupancy throughout the state of Arkansas has changed over this period.

  • Habitat Use of Wintering Henslow’s Sparrows in Power Line Right-Of-Ways
  • Abigail W. Dwire; Todd M. Schneider; Elizabeth A. Hunter
    Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii) is a grassland bird species of conservation concern that has traditionally relied on pine savanna habitats for food and shelter in the winter months; however, today only fragmented remnants of these habitats remain. During the last few decades, Henslow’s Sparrows have been recorded using power line right-of-ways (ROWs) in Georgia as an alternative habitat for overwintering. Due to low tree cover and a graminoid-dominated understory, these ROWs share similar vegetative characteristics to traditional pine savannas; however, it is still unclear what micro-habitat characteristics these sparrows are keying in on within the ROWs. To address this question, we conducted weighted-rope drag surveys through ROW transects at three Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in the coastal plain of Georgia from January-March in 2019 and 2020, and recorded coordinates where individual Henslow’s Sparrows flushed from the ground. Within these transects, vegetative measurements including height, density, percent cover, and species composition were recorded at systematically placed plots (representing available habitat) and at flush point plots (representing used habitat). Vegetation structure and composition differed across the three WMAs surveyed, with the driest site having the lowest species diversity and shortest plant height. The driest site also had the lowest density of Henslow’s Sparrows compared to the other two WMAs, indicating that plant height may be an important factor in Henslow’s Sparrow habitat selection. We used Principle Component Analysis to identify influential habitat characteristics which we then put into a logistic regression to assess how those characteristics affect Henslow’s Sparrow habitat use versus availability. These results will help to inform best management practices in ROWs for this species of conservation concern.

  • Occupancy of Semi-Aquatic Mammals in An Urban Landscape
  • Devin M. Hoffer
    Throughout midwestern North American ecosystems, semi-aquatic mammals including beaver (Castor canadensis), mink (Neovision vision), muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), and river otter (Lontra canadensis) co-exist in wetlands. These species are ecologically important through their manipulation of habitats and interactions with other species. The Lake County (Illinois) Forest Preserve District is actively restoring forest preserves using several restoration practices and is interested in how these efforts may affect semi-aquatic mammal occupancy. However, research on this topic is uncommon in the literature. We studied impacts of restoration practices (i.e., prescribed burns, chemical and mechanical invasive species removal, and reforestation) on occupancy of the 4 aforementioned focal species. Sign surveys (i.e. tracks, scat, evidence of foraging, lodging) were conducted during December-April 2018-2020 to quantify occupancy at 49 sites. River otter were detected at 10% of our sites, but detections were too few for modeling. Muskrat occupancy (0.90) was not influenced by any habitat variables measured. Beavers (occupancy=0.53) occupied wider channels with less submerged vegetation because these areas flood more, thereby providing additional aquatic habitat. Mink (occupancy=0.43) utilized wider rivers more than ponds, likely due to a greater amount of aquatic and terrestrial prey found in the former. Occupancy rates for mink were greater when (1) stream density was high, likely due to increased prey densities, and (2) road presence was low, because of increased edge habitat to safely hunt prey while minimizing vehicle-related mortality. Although no species were affected by restoration practices, wildlife managers can use the information from our study to focus future restoration efforts on forest preserves where semi-aquatic mammal occupancy was low.

  • Assessing Edge Effects on Small-Mammal Foraging Using Giving-Up Density Stations*
  • Danah E. Hunt; Maggie M. Woodall; Michael J. Bender
    Foraging decisions are often critically important to species’ fitness and survival. The importance of these decisions have been documented for small mammals and indicate that habitat conditions influence predator vigilance and resource acquisition. Powerlines are a prevalent landscape component found across the southeastern U.S. and, while they potentially influence animal activity and habitat use, their impact is poorly understood. Our objective for this project was to assess the influence of a powerline on small mammal foraging within Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve in Hall County, GA. To achieve our objective, we used feeding stations containing a mixture of sand and sunflower seeds and measured the giving up density (GUD) after one week, with the assumption that small mammals seeking to balance predator vigilance and exposure with acquisition of food will consume more resources when they feel least threatened. Feeding stations were placed at varying distances from the powerline edge and GUD was modeled using linear regression to assess the influence of distance to edge, vegetation cover, and habitat type on foraging. Preliminary analyses indicate that giving up density was lower (i.e., animals consumed more seeds) as distance into the powerline increased. Our results suggest that powerlines are used by foraging small mammals, but that the rodents avoid use of powerline edges. This result generally agrees with previous research that indicates predation risk is higher along the edge of a habitat than within the interior. Future efforts will focus on increasing our sample size and determining if our results persist throughout seasons.

  • Habitat Selection of Eastern Wild Turkey Broods*
  • Stefan D. Nelson; Patrick H. Wightman; Bret A. Collier; Michael J. Chamberlain; Bradley S. Cohen
    Resources are located heterogeneously across the landscape, forcing animals to make behavioral tradeoffs and select for patches that best accommodate their energetic and thermoregulatory needs while balancing predation risk. These behavioral tradeoffs manifest as shifts in habitat selection wherein animals change their spatiotemporal use of habitats to meet current and future needs. While some aspects of habitat selection (nest-site, roost-site, etc.) have been extensively studied in wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), brood habitat selection is one of the least understood aspects of wild turkey reproductive ecology. Despite many populations having rebounded across the country in recent decades following reintroduction and new introduction efforts, recent research indicates that turkey populations across the southeastern United States are experiencing declines in productivity and recruitment, as evidenced by decreasing poult-to-hen ratios. These declines in poult-to-hen ratios raise concerns about the availability and composition of quality brooding habitat. To better understand factors influencing brood habitat selection, we are measuring arthropod biomass as a measure of forage availability, air temperature as a measure of thermoregulatory stress, and vegetation characteristics as a measure of cover at known locations of brooding and non-brooding female eastern wild turkeys (M. g. silvestris). We conducted our first field season in 2019 in the Piedmont region of Georgia, and preliminary results suggest arthropod abundance, basal area, and refuge from daytime temperatures may influence wild turkey brood habitat selection. We discuss the potential implications for habitat management, particularly for eastern wild turkeys in pine-dominated systems of the southeastern United States.


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