Prey selection by three mesopredators that are thought to prey on eastern wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo sylvestris) in the pineywoods of East Texas

Haemish I.A.S. Melville, Warren C. Conway, Michael L. Morrison, Christopher E. Comer, Jason B. Hardin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Predation, especially during the nesting and poult-rearing seasons, may inhibit Meleagris gallopavo (Wild Turkey) recruitment in east Texas. Numerous authors cite Lynx rufus (Bobcat), Canis latrans (Coyote), and Procyon lotor (Raccoon) as predators of Wild Turkey. Consequently, we investigated prey selection of these 3 common mesopredators using scat analysis. We also investigated prey-population dynamics using capture-mark-recapture techniques for small mammals (Rodentia), and spotlight surveys and track plate counts for Sylvilagus floridanus (Eastern Cottontail). We found no evidence that mesopredators preyed upon Wild Turkeys. Small mammals and lagomorphs were the primary components of mesopredator diets. Small-mammal numbers varied seasonally; however, Cottontail relative abundance did not. Mesopredator diets were most diverse in summer. In summer, Bobcats increased their use of small mammals, whereas Coyotes and Raccoons diversified their diets to include seasonal fruits. Decline in small-mammal populations and increase in mesopredator dietary diversity coincided with Wild Turkey nesting and poultrearing seasons, which potentially could result in an increased threat to Wild Turkeys during the nesting and poult-rearing season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-472
Number of pages26
JournalSoutheastern Naturalist
Volume14
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

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