Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forestry and Environmental Conservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

David Jachowski

Committee Member

Beth E. Ross

Committee Member

Patrick G.R. Jodice


Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a highly popular game species harvested primarily during the reproductive season, which has driven substantial efforts to understand patterns of springtime habitat use and gobbling activity. Autonomous recording units (ARUs) have enabled researchers to collect unprecedented amounts of gobbling data, yet post hoc processing of audio data has been time-intensive due to false detection rates. Gobbling activity has been studied in the South Carolina Coastal Plain, but data for the Upstate are lacking. My objectives were to assess seasonal and weekly gobbling activity and turkey habitat use in Upstate South Carolina relative to hunting and breeding seasons. I deployed 38 ARUs throughout Upstate SC and collected daily 3-hour recordings from March 1 to May 31 in 2019 and 2020. I used an acoustic template finder, monitoR, to identify detections which I incorporated into hierarchical single-season occupancy models to evaluate site use across Upstate South Carolina and quantify factors affecting detection probability and false positives. My occupancy models used audio templates as independent “observers” for repeat sampling. For both years, false positive probabilities increased as distance to water increased (ΔAICc = 3.00 [2019] and ΔAICc = 10.30 [2020]). Additionally, false positive rates in 2019 were correlated positively with average wind speed in 2019 (β = 0.54, 0.21– 0.87; 85% CI), and in 2020 differed by template choice (β = 0.70, 0.54 – 0.86; 85% CI). The top-ranked detection models for both years included terms for template, humidity, and date. Percentage of pasture was positively correlated with seasonal turkey site use and was the most predictive model in 2019 and 2020. Gobbling activity did not exhibit any discernible patterns between years or within seasons, demonstrating the challenge managers face when structuring harvest seasons based on highly variable results from gobbling chronology studies.



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