Latitude and daily-weather effects on gobbling activity of wild turkeys in Mississippi

  • Matthew D. PalumboEmail author
  • Francisco J. Vilella
  • Guiming Wang
  • Bronson K. Strickland
  • Dave Godwin
  • P. Grady Dixon
  • Benjamin D. Rubin
  • Marcus A. Lashley
Original Paper


Weather has been recognized as a density independent factor influencing the abundance, distribution, and behavior of vertebrates. Male wild turkeys’ (Meleagris gallopavo) breeding behavior includes vocalizations and courtship displays to attract females, the phenology of which can vary with latitude. State biologists design spring turkey-hunting season frameworks centered on annual vocalization patterns to maximize hunter engagement. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has traditionally instituted a statewide, 7-week, spring harvest season. However, hunters routinely argue that different peaks in gobbling activity across the state exist. The objective of this study was to determine whether differences in peak gobbling activity existed across a latitudinal gradient of Mississippi and assess the effect of weather on gobbling. During 2008 and 2009, we conducted a statewide gobbling survey. We used generalized additive mixed models to describe the probability and frequency of gobbling activity within northern and southern regions of the state. We also investigated the effect of daily weather conditions on gobbling activity. Our results revealed an approximate 10–14-day difference in peak gobbling activity between southern and northern Mississippi. The majority of all gobbling activity occurred within the current spring harvest framework. Perhaps more importantly, gobbling activity was more prevalent on days of regionally dry conditions (i.e., less humid) according to the Spatial Synoptic Classification. Our results provide information on gobbling activity phenology relative to hunting-season dates and weather-response information. Our approach may be particularly applicable in states with relatively shorter seasons or highly variable daily weather conditions that moderate gobbling frequency.


Call counts Generalized additive mixed model Phenology Road survey Spatial Synoptic Classification 



We thank MDWFP staff, especially S. Edwards, R. Seiss, and A. Butler, and project technicians for the logistical support. We also would like to thank Darren Miller, an anonymous reviewer, and the editor-in-chief for their review of a previous version of this manuscript and for their helpful comments.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Funding information

This project was funded by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Funds through the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP; Project W-48-45, Study 58).


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Copyright information

© ISB 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Box 9690Mississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.New York State Department of Environmental ConservationAlbanyUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Geological Survey, Mississippi Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and AquacultureMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  4. 4.Mississippi Forestry AssociationJacksonUSA
  5. 5.Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and ParksJacksonUSA
  6. 6.Department of GeosciencesFort Hays State UniversityHaysUSA
  7. 7.Department of BiologyWestern UniversityLondonCanada

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