Rio Grande wild turkey diets in the Texas Panhandle

dc.contributor.committeeChairBallard, Warren B.
dc.contributor.committeeChairWallace, Mark C.
dc.contributor.committeeMemberHoldstock, Derrick P.
dc.creatorPetersen, Brian Earl Resources
dc.description.abstractMany diet studies have been conducted throughout the range of the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), and have described wild turkeys as opportunistic. However, only a few diet studies have been conducted on the Rio Grande wild turkey (M. g. intermedia) in Texas and none have been conducted in the Texas Panhandle. Our objectives were to determine seasonal and annual diets of wild turkeys in the Texas Panhandle. We conducted our study on 3 study sites, Gene Howe Wildlife Management Area, Matador Wildlife Management Area, and private lands surrounding the Salt Fork of the Red River. We harvested 70 birds, 35 male and 35 female, from all the study sites over 4 seasons. We analyzed crop contents to determine diet. We removed, dried, and examined samples macroscopically to identify plants (to species) and insects (to order) eaten. Hackberries (Celtis spp.) (24.7%), domestic peanuts (10.7%), woolybucket bumelia (Bumelia lanuginosa) (9.6%), corn (8.2%), Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia) fruit (6.9%), and grasshoppers (6.1%) were all important components of the annual diet by volume. Annually, hackberries were found in the greatest frequency (62.9%) followed by beetles (55.7%), grass vegetation (47.1%), and grasshoppers (44.3%). Winter diets were composed primarily of hackberries (56.4%), peanuts (14.1%), and western wheatgrass (Agropyron smithii) (10.5%). Spring diets consisted primarily of peanuts (41.6%), dense-flower bladderpod (Lesquerella densiflora) (24.6%), and grasses (11.4%). Summer diets were dominated by Chickasaw plum fruit (28.1%), grasshoppers (20.0%), and western soapberry (Sapindus drummondii) fruit (19.2%). Finally, the most abundant foods during the autumn were woolybucket bumelia (32.1%), hackberry (18.7%), corn (16.9%), and western ragweed ( ) (7.3%). We found no significant differences between foods consumed by male or female wild turkeys. We found that animal matter was consumed most during summer (P = 0.0004), mast was consumed least during spring (P = 0.0065), and miscellaneous items were consumed in greater amounts in the winter (P = 0.0011). We also found that anthropogenic food was consumed the most at the Salt Fork study area (P < 0.0001), mast was consumed the least at the Salt Fork study area (P = 0.0067), and miscellaneous items were consumed in the greatest amounts at the Matador study area (P = 0.0022). Wildlife managers can use this information to evaluate wild turkey habitat for management planning. Future research should focus on determining the effect of food sources on wild turkey population dynamics, movement, and distribution, especially the role of anthropogenic foods on these parameters. Chapter I is a comprehensive review of all literature relating to wild turkey history, ecology and diet. In the first part, I outline the history of the wild turkey in North America, the differences between the subspecies, and basic habitat associations of the Rio Grande wild turkey. In the second part, I compare and contrast different methods for determining diet, and review what previous diet studies on wild turkeys have found. The intent of the first chapter is to give a more complete background than is possible in the second chapter. Chapter II describes that study that I conducted on Rio Grande wild turkeys in the Texas Panhandle to assess their diet. This chapter is intended to be submitted to the Southwest Naturalist journal and is formatted in accordance with their policies.
dc.subjectAggregate volume
dc.subjectFood habits
dc.titleRio Grande wild turkey diets in the Texas Panhandle
dc.typeThesis Resources Resources Management Resources Tech University of Science


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