Distribution, delineation, and characteristics of roosting habitat of wild turkey in Trans-Pecos, Texas
Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) occur intermittently throughout Trans-Pecos, Texas. In the lower desert of the Trans-Pecos, turkeys are strongly associated with the limited amount of riparian habitat. Turkey populations in the region are thought to be on the increase, however empirical data are lacking. I initiated a study to: (1) document microhabitat characteristics of roost sites, (2) map distribution of wild turkey, (3) delineate riparian corridors, and (4) classify habitats within the riparian corridors in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. I measured microhabitat characteristics (canopy cover, stand density, visual obstruction readings, understory herbaceous cover, tree height, diameter-at-breast height (dbh), height-to-lowest-live-branch, slope, and aspect) from 15 winter roost and 15 random sites in 3 habitat types in the Trans-Pecos region: ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), live oak (Quercus virginiana), and sugar hackberry ( Celtis laevigata). All roost sites were <1 km from riparian corridors and located in riparian regions. Among the 3 habitats, large tree diameters and height were a prerequisite for roost trees in live oak and sugar hackberry habitat, where live oak roost trees were larger (mean dbh = 57.78 cm) than non-roosting trees (mean dbh = 39.13 cm). Roost trees in live oak habitat had a greater height than trees in random sites (13.58 m and 11.28 m, respectively). Sugar hackberry roost trees had larger dbh, height, height-to-lowest-live-branch, and canopy cover than nonroost trees in random sites. Due to the sparse tree density, I recommend that riparian corridors with potential roosting habitat be protected throughout the Trans-Pecos. In addition, exotic species (e.g., Tamarisk) should be controlled and native riparian habitats should be preserved.
0777: Range management