Habitat use and home range sizes of female Eastern Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) during preincubation may influence reproductive success. Little information on habitat selection during preincubation at multiple spatial scales is available and the influence of preincubation movement rates on reproductive success is poorly understood. We monitored 35 adult female Eastern Wild Turkeys during preincubation in central Mississippi during 1996–1997. We estimated home range and core area size, macrohabitat selection at multiple spatial scales and movement rates from 1 February until the beginning of incubation. Preincubation home ranges averaged 306.6 (±46.8 SE) ha and core areas 47.3 (±7.4) ha. Females selected 9–15 and 16–29 year-old pine (Pinus spp.) stands over other habitats available when establishing home ranges, but within these home ranges they selected pine stands that were older than 30 years for their core areas and nest sites. However, females used habitats within their established home range in proportion to availability. Movement rates averaged 286.5 (±22.3) m/hr during preincubation and were greater than during other seasons. We detected no correlations between home range or core area size and number of days nests were successfully incubated. However, we detected a positive correlation between movement rates and increased incubation, suggesting females that moved farther during preincubation successfully incubated nests longer. Our findings suggest females selected habitats differentially when establishing pre-incubation home ranges and core areas. Further, our findings suggest movement rates within home ranges may better reflect a female's habitat sampling effort during nest site selection rather than home range or core area size.
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Vol. 112 • No. 3