Semester of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science (MS)


Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type



Nest site selection is a driving demographic force behind eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) populations. However, previous research was likely not focused on the actual time of nest site selection, considering that nest site selection is likely only able to occur on the day of the first egg being laid. My objective was to determine if selection for any vegetation characteristics was occurring on the first day of laying. I estimated the path taken from the roost to the nest on the first day of egg laying (i.e., laying path) using GPS data collected from 164 unique female wild turkey first nest attempts in west-central Louisiana from 2014 to 2021. I compared the vegetative characteristics of those laying paths to other available habitat. I found that female wild turkeys had no clear selection of any vegetation characteristics on their laying path. My results suggest that nest site selection is not based on available habitat, thus nest site selection is either driven by other factors or is stereotypic.

Wild turkey research often focuses on the movement of single individuals without considering group effects, despite wild turkeys being mostly gregarious. My objective was to determine how often female wild turkeys share space during the breeding season over multiple years. I used GPS data collected from 231 female wild turkeys that each produced ≥ one nest to estimate each individuals’ ranges during two periods of the breeding season (pre-laying and laying). I then determined how often those ranges overlapped, while also comparing ranges for individuals who had multiple nests for individual site fidelity. I found that the probability of sharing space depended on where individuals were caught, but that breeding female wild turkeys had a high probability of sharing space during the pre-laying period with any breeding female captured within 7.5 km. The probability of sharing space was lower during the laying period. Individual site fidelity was high throughout the breeding season. My results suggest that female wild turkeys are using similar areas during the breeding season over time, with persistent leks being the anchor for female wild turkeys and their offspring.



Committee Chair

Collier, Bret