This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Estimating Use, Density, and Productivity of Eastern Wild Turkey in Alabama




Gonnerman, Matthew

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


An important component of effectively managing wildlife is understanding the size and structure of their populations. The optimal management action for a population will change depending on its current size and demographic structure. Regular monitoring enables managers to assess a population’s status and reduce uncertainty surrounding the impacts of available management options. In the absence of monitoring, managers rely on expert knowledge about populations to make management decisions. Many southern states, including Alabama, manage eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) according to inadequate estimation methods such as those based on expert opinion or opportunistic roadside surveys. There is little confidence in the accuracy of these estimates and they lack any measure of precision. Surveys, based on counts, designed to monitor turkey population size and structure would provide better information on which to base management decisions. I explored the use of gobble count and camera trap surveys in conjunction with occupancy as a means for monitoring wild turkey populations. Estimates of use, density, and productivity produced from these methods can better inform managers about the populations they are managing and can reduce uncertainty in management decisions.