Palumbo, M.D., F.J. Vilella, G. Wang, B.K. Strickland, D.Godwin, P.G. Dixon, B.D. Rubin, M.A. Lashley. 2019. Latitude and daily-weather effects on gobbling activity of wild turkeys in Mississippi. International Journal of Biometeorology 63:1059-1067. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00484-019-01720-2
Male wild turkeys’ (Meleagris gallopavo) breeding behavior consists of vocalizations and courtship displays to attract females; the phenology of which can vary with latitude and climate. Wildlife biologists frame spring wild turkey hunting seasons around annual trends in vocalization peaks to maximize hunter engagement. Historically, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks institutes a statewide 7 week spring harvest season; however, hunters routinely suggested there were different peaks in gobbling activity across a latitudinal gradient within the state. Our objectives were to determine if there were differences in peak gobbling activity between southern and northern Mississippi, if the current spring harvest seasons captured the peaks in gobbling activity, and to describe potential weather conditions that were observed during gobbling activity. During 2008 and 2009, we constructed a statewide gobbling survey to monitor gobbling activity and queried four Spatial Synoptic Classification sites to compare concurrent weather conditions. We determined an approximate 2 week difference in peak gobbling activity between southern and northern Mississippi. Further, the majority of all gobbling activity occurred within the spring harvest framework. We also observed gobbling activity was more prevalent on days of regionally dry conditions according to Spatial Synoptic Classification. Our results provide information to managers about the phenology of gobbling activity relative to season dates and useful weather-response information that may be of interest to hunters. Our approach could be modeled elsewhere and provide beneficial information particularly in states with relatively shorter seasons.