This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Factors Influencing Post-Capture Survival and Survival of Eastern Wild Turkeys in Alabama




Zenas, Stephen

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) has recently initiated research on the eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) population due to perceived declines in abundance throughout the state. Addressing this concern has profound effects on the social, economic and legal circumstances associated with Alabama’s turkey population. The Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (ACFWRU) is developing a decision support tool to inform and support the ADCNR’s future harvest regulations. The decision support tool will allow the ADCNR to access the effects of current and future harvest regulations based on empirical data, and provide a framework to address the perceived decline. Estimates of annual and seasonal survival are important in understanding the size, structure, and growth rates of wildlife populations, are a critical component of the decision support tool, and addressing the perceived decline of wild turkeys in the state of Alabama. Following a brief introduction in chapter one, I discuss the effects of the capture, handling, and marking process on wild turkey survival post-capture. The implications of this chapter could influence the methodologies with which wild turkeys are captured, handled, and marked, as well as how we analyze monitoring data to estimate survival rates. In chapter three, I provide seasonal and annual estimates of survival for each age and sex class of wild turkey, as well as identify potential factors influence survival. In the final chapter, I discuss some general thoughts on wild turkey survival rates, how we estimate them, and future areas of research.