Date of Award:

1974

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Biology

Advisor/Chair:

Jessop B. Low

Abstract

A study of the Merriam's wild turkey was conducted March 1972 to August 1973 in southwestern Utah to determine the life history and habitat utilization. Using transects, bio-telemetry, and observational techniques, information on flocking, hen:poult and sex ratios, and approximate dates for spring dispersal, nesting, and hatching was obtained. Turkey observations in relation to habitat variables were used to determine habitat utilization. Except during the spring mating season, male flocks remained apart from other turkeys. Hen flocks in fall and winter consisted of adult hens and juveniles of both sexes. Males dispersed from winter flocks in March, and those that became harem gobblers attracted not more than 3 hens. Egg-laying probably took place from mid-April to mid-May and hatching from mid-May to mid-June. A drop in hen:poult ratios from 1:2.2 in 1972 to 1:0.7 in 1973 was attributed to harsh spring weather. Hens comprised an estimated 60 percent of the population during the study period. Turkeys utilized a faU-winter-early spring habitat of mountain brush and scattered ponderosa pine. Late spring use was associated with a ponderosa pine or aspen-mixed-conifer habitat type. Broods highly used glades dominated by an aspen overstory with intermingling mixed-conifer, while a male flock used mixedconifer clearings at 10,000 feet elevation. The upper and lower limits of turkey range on the study area were 10,000 and 6,000 feet, respectively. Turkeys began spring migration in April and fall migration in late September or early October.

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