Provided by the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University Wild turkey genetics, nesting success, and brood survival are among the research topics in a 4.5-year, $2 million study launched in 2022 by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, other state and federal entities, and private landowners working together to address wild turkey population dynamics. Following is a summary of recent study activities.
GENETICS STUDY: Researchers received the genotyped data for the turkey DNA samples from the Texas A&M Genomics and Bioinformatics facility. They are currently assessing those data files for quality and resolving any data issues before analysis. Data analysis will begin with examining genomic diversity metrics and genetic structure analysis.
SOUTHWESTERN AND SOUTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA POPULATION STUDY AREAS: Researchers have been working on obtaining the necessary permits for sending e-DNA swab samples taken from predated wild turkey adults and nests to Wildlife Genetics International in Canada for predator identification.
The teams began analyzing about 2 million game camera images acquired during the mesocarnivore density study in both Southeast and Southwest study sites. Researchers have been working on getting the MegaDetector program to run on Oklahoma State University’s supercomputer. The program will differentiate images with and without animals, to reduce the number of images needing manual examination. During a test run, the program analyzed more than 10,000 photos in just nine hours. After all images have been analyzed by the program, researchers will manually count and identify all animals in the selected images.
For logistical reasons, postponed attempting to locate missing hens in the Southeast study area until October.
Researcher Cody Griffin is planning a presentation on the Southwest study site research at the Society for Range Management meeting in January.