Females must balance physiological and behavioral demands of producing offspring with associated expenditures, such as resource acquisition and predator avoidance. Nest success is an important parameter underlying avian population dynamics. Galliforms are particularly susceptible to low nest success due to exposure of ground nests to multiple predator guilds, lengthy incubation periods, and substantive reliance on crypsis for survival. Hence, it is plausible that nesting individuals prioritize productivity and survival differently, resulting in a gradient of reproductive strategies. Fine-scale movement patterns during incubation are not well documented in ground-nesting birds, and the influence of reproductive movements on survival is largely unknown. Using GPS data collected from female wild turkeys (n = 278) across the southeastern United States, we evaluated the influence of incubation recess behaviors on trade-offs between nest and female survival. We quantified daily recess behaviors including recess duration, recess frequency, total distance traveled, and incubation range size for each nest attempt as well as covariates for nest concealment, nest attempt, and nest age. Of 374 nests, 91 (24%) hatched and 39 (14%) females were depredated during incubation. Average nest survival during the incubation period was 0.19, whereas average female survival was 0.78. On average, females took 1.6 daily unique recesses (SD = 1.2), spent 2.1 hr off the nest each day (SD = 1.8), and traveled 357.6 m during recesses (SD = 396.6). Average nest concealment was 92.5 cm (SD = 47). We found that females who took longer recess bouts had higher individual survival, but had increased nest loss. Females who recessed more frequently had lower individual survival. Our findings suggest behavioral decisions made during incubation represent life-history trade-offs between predation risk and reproductive success on an unpredictable landscape.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
Lohr, A. K., Martin, J. A., Wann, G. T., Cohen, B. S., Collier, B. A., & Chamberlain, M. J. (2020). Behavioral strategies during incubation influence nest and female survival of Wild Turkeys. ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.6812