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Title:Effects of black flies on wild turkey reproductive success
Author(s):Meador, Morgan Taylor
Advisor(s):Hoover, Jeffrey P
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Wild Turkey
Daily Nest Survival
Black Flies
Nest Success
Abstract:Reproductive success is an important driver of population dynamics in wild avian populations. Establishing what factors influence reproductive success is necessary for informing management strategies that ultimately aid in sustaining populations. For game species (i.e., those that are hunted) understanding what factors influence population dynamics is crucial for sustaining harvestable populations. In economically and recreationally important avian species, such as Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris), nest success and female survival have been found to have the strongest effects on population growth. Previous studies on Wild Turkeys have established that variables such as weather (e.g., precipitation and temperature), landscape composition (e.g., forest cover, streams, edge habitat, roads), and nest-site vegetation structure can influence nest success. Biting insects such as black flies (Diptera: Simuliidae) are a common nuisance often present during the reproductive period of numerous avian species and have the potential to directly (e.g., cause nestling mortality) and indirectly (e.g., increase rate of nest abandonment) affect reproductive success of avian populations. Wild Turkeys may be one species particularly vulnerable to negative effects of black flies. I evaluated the influence of black flies, in addition to other extrinsic variables (e.g., weather, landscape features, and nest-site vegetation structure) on Wild Turkey nest success in western and south-central Illinois. I radio-marked 52 hens and evaluated black fly abundance, vegetation structure, and landscape features associated with 49 nests during 2017-2019. I used logistic regression in an information-theoretic framework to determine if a weekly index of black fly abundance, vegetation obstruction within 15m of a nest-site, daily weather conditions, or landscape characteristics associated with nest sites predicted nest survival. The western region of Illinois experienced a longer black fly activity period along with an overall higher abundance of black flies compared to the south-central region of Illinois. However, I found no evidence suggesting that black flies had negative effects on reproductive success of Wild Turkeys despite black flies being pervasive in western Illinois study sites. Turkey hens in both regions had similar reproductive success with a low rate of nest success relative to other populations in the midwestern United States. Nest survival was not affected by any extrinsic variables such as visual obstruction of the nest, landscape features, or weather variables. Similar to other studies of Wild Turkey nest success, nest failure was pervasive across our study sites with predators being the main cause of nest failure (>40%) in our study, suggesting that each region may have an abundance of nest and hen predators.
Issue Date:2021-03-01
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Morgan Meador
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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