|Provided by Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Oklahoma State University
Wild turkey genetics is among the focus areas in a planned 4.5-year study launched at the beginning of 2022 by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to address wild turkey population dynamics and brood survival.
Genetics Study: Following successful collection of genetic samples from the 2022 spring turkey season, researchers are formulating protocols for proceeding with genetic analysis of the samples. They are considering a Low Coverage Whole Genome approach to identify some specific single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that might be used to determine genetic differentiation among turkeys from different parts of Oklahoma. Researchers could then sequence those SNPs and move forward with data collection.
Southwestern Study Area: Researcher Cody Griffin visited potential trap sites in southwestern Oklahoma and spoke with biologists from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Washita National Wildlife Refuge about those sites serving as backup locations for turkey captures. Biologists at both sites expressed interest in participating in the study. Griffin continued reviewing existing literature and explored turkey movement and location data from Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area collected in 2016 and 2017 to help develop research questions.
Researcher Nicolle De Filippo and Griffin met with ODWC at the end of September to provide updates on the project and discuss future directions. Among the data presented at the meeting were location data from turkey hens collected during the 2022 breeding season (Figure 1).
Southeastern Study Area: Researchers consulted with colleagues to develop additional sampling protocols for the upcoming season. The latest protocols include predator DNA swabs at mortality sites, and disease sampling of hens when captured.
(Financial support for this publication was provided by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation through the Wildlife Restoration Program, F21AF02702 (W-216-R-1), and Oklahoma State University.)