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Abstract

Knowledge of how density affects population growth is important for the harvest management of wild turkey. Unfortunately, available time-series are often too short for statistical detection of density dependence. The correlation between wild turkey recruitment and population size was assessed using data from 7 state wildlife agencies, circumventing the problem of short time-series by using multiple datasets. Correlation coefficients were calculated between surveyed poult:hen ratios and harvest-based population indices for 31 geographic or harvest management regions. Estimated correlation coefficients were tested for homogeneity to determine if an average correlation could be calculated. Correlation coefficients for the 29 regions ranged from -0.82 to 0.70. A Q-test for homogeneity indicated that correlation coefficients were similar enough to warrant averaging [Q=25.45, df = 28, P = 0.603]. The weighted average correlation coefficient (± standard error) was r = -0.30 ± 0.45. Population size accounted for little of the variation associated with production (r = 0.09). Graphical analysis indicated that a negative correlation between poult:hen ratios and population size tended to occur when the range of population sizes was large. Density dependence appears to have little effect on production. Density-independent models should have better success modeling wild turkey production, while density-dependent effects may have stronger influence on survival or immigration at low population sizes.

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