Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

First Advisor

Lester Flake

Second Advisor

Charles Scalet


Radio-equipped wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) hens (n=53) were monitored in a prairie river breaks environment in south-central South Dakota during 1986 and 1987. Seventy percent (36 of 47 adults and 1 of 6 juveniles) of the monitored hens nested. Hens that nested prior to 7 May selected nest sites in woodland habitats, while hens nesting later than 7 May selected nest sites in grassland habitats. Hens nested at sites with higher (P<0.05) percent visual obstruction, percent shrub cover, presence of overhanging vegetation, and habitat diversity than found at random control sites. Nest sites also allowed greater field of vision and opportunities for escape than random controls. Discriminant models developed from variables measured at nest and control sites were effective in distinguishing between the 2 categories. Seventeen of 39 (43.6%) clutches hatched, and 11 broods survived to mid-August. Poult survival in 1986 was 42.9%, with all poult mortality occurring during the first 2 weeks post-hatch. Accurate data for poult survival was not obtainable during 1987, but survival appeared to be similar to 1986. Broods moved up to 3.5 km from nest sites before establishing definite ranges. Broods ranges were composed of ≥50% woodland types, while woodlands comprised only 30.8% of the study area. Mean range size increased 3-fold from the 0-4 week age class (Age 1) to the 4+ week age class (Age 2). Broods used habitats in proportion to availability within ranges. However, grasslands were used more than expected (P<0.05) between 0631 hr and 1130 hr over the summer, and less than expected (P<0.05) by Age 2 broods between 1131 hr and 1630 hr. Woodlands were used more than expected between 1131 hr and 1630 hr over the summer, but not significantly so. Seventy-seven percent of all brood sightings made between 0631 hr and 1130 hr, and 67% of all sightings made between 1631 hr and 2030 hr were in grassland habitats. Seventy-two percent of all brood sightings made between 1131 hr and 1630 hr were in woodlands. Grassland brood use sites had greater forb cover, less grass cover, and were closer to habitat edges than random control sites (P<0.05). Discriminant analysis effectively reclassified grassland brood use sites, but not control sites. Age 1 broods sued grassland sites with greater overhead (> 30 cm) shrub cover, and nearer habitat edges than sites used by Age 2 broods (P<0.05). Woodland brood use sites were nearer (P<0.05) habitat edges than random controls. No significant differences could be found between woodland sites used by Age 1 and Age 2 broods. Discriminant analysis was ineffective in distinguishing between classes for woodland brood use sites or between ages for either woodland or grassland brood use sites.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wild turkey -- South Dakota -- Gregory County
Wild turkey -- Reproduction -- Climatic factors
Wild turkey -- Habitat


Includes bibliographical references (pages 79-86)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University