Managing pine (Pinus spp.) savanna through frequent use of prescribed fire and selective harvest of off-site hardwoods in the uplands is appropriate for many declining wildlife species, but may be incompatible with published recommendations for wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo). Therefore, we investigated breeding season habitat use of radio-tagged wild turkeys (n= 78) in a frequently burned pine savanna system in southwest Georgia during 2003-2005. Ground story vegetation structure and composition in pine savannas change rapidly following fire such that categorical (i.e., burned vs. unburned) habitat selection analyses does not depict the fine scaled time-dependent relationships; therefore, we analyzed turkey selection of savanna on a seasonal and continuous scale. From a seasonal standpoint, pine savanna habitat-type were selected by gobblers, but used less than availability by hens. However, selection of pine savanna was influenced by time since fire; hens more likely selected pine savannas burned within 1.4. years whereas gobblers selected pine savannas burned within 1.6. years. Hens also selected hardwood drains whereas gobblers demonstrated proportional use of these habitats. Selection of pine savannas by wild turkeys was dependent on application of prescribed burning <2. years and suggests that previous recommendations for longer burning frequencies are too long to balance turkey habitat needs with those of a suite of declining birds associated with pine savanna ecosystems.
- Habitat use
- Meleagris gallopavo
- Prescribed fire
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law