2023 journal article

Minimal shift of eastern wild turkey nesting phenology associated with projected climate change

Climate Change Ecology.

UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
13. Climate Action (OpenAlex)
Source: ORCID
Added: January 28, 2024

Climate change may induce mismatches between wildlife reproductive phenology and temporal occurrence of resources necessary for reproductive success. Verifying and elucidating the causal mechanisms behind potential mismatches requires large-scale, longer-duration data. We used eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) nesting data collected across the southeastern U.S. over eight years to investigate potential climatic drivers of variation in nest initiation dates. We investigated climactic relationships with two datasets, one inclusive of successful and unsuccessful nests (full dataset) and another of just successful nests (successfully hatched dataset), to determine whether successfully hatched nests responded differently to weather changes than all nests did. In the full dataset, each 10 cm increase in January precipitation was associated with nesting occurring 0.46–0.66 days earlier, and each 10 cm increase in precipitation during the 30 days preceding nesting was associated with nesting occurring 0.17–0.21 days later. In the successfully hatched dataset, a 10 cm increase in March precipitation was associated with nesting occurring 0.67–0.74 days earlier, and an increase of one unit of variation in February maximum temperature was associated with nesting occurring 0.02 days later. We combined the results of these modeled relationships with multiple climate scenarios to understand potential implications of future climate change on wild turkey nesting phenology; results indicated that mean nest initiation date is projected to change by <0.1 day by 2040–2060. Wild turkey nesting phenology did not track changes in spring green-up timing, which could result in phenological mismatch between the timing of nesting and the availability of resources critical for successful reproduction.