Instances of intraspecific nest parasitism in eastern and Rio Grande wild turkeys

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Instances of intraspecific nest parasitism in eastern and Rio Grande wild turkeys

Nest of a GPS marked female wild turkey that contained 22 eggs in Georgia, USA during 2017. We illustrated examples of intraspecific nest parasitism using photographic evidence and GPS telemetry data during 2014–2018. Our findings suggest that >6% of nests are potentially parasitized, and that multiple females may parasitize a single nest. We encourage researchers to assess how the potential for nest parasitism may be influenced by predator abundance and activity.

Abstract

Nest parasitism can play an important role in processes regulating population dynamics of both hosts and parasites. Inter- and intra-specific nest parasitism are 2 alternative reproductive strategies observed to occur in about 1% of all bird species. Recently, low productivity in wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) populations has resulted in population declines across the southeastern United States. Reproductive output may be influenced by nest parasitism, but the extent of nest parasitism and how it may be related to productivity of wild turkey populations are poorly understood. Herein, we illustrate 6 unreported examples of intraspecific nest parasitism obtained using GPS telemetry data from female wild turkeys in Georgia and Louisiana during 2014−2018. Further, we report 3 occurrences of nest parasitism in Texas using photographic evidence. Our findings suggest that ≥6% of nests are potentially parasitized, and that multiple females may visit and parasitize a single nest. Given recent declines in reproductive output of wild turkeys throughout the southeastern United States, we encourage researchers to continue assessing potential for nest parasitism across wild turkey populations and how this potential may be influenced by predator abundance and activity.

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