K-State biologists receive more than $1.8 million for wild turkey research
Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023
Researchers with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks release wild turkeys following a capture and banding effort. Kansas State University biologists are leading a $1.8 million study to determine why wild turkey populations are declining in the state. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — Two Kansas State University biologists are leading a study to understand why wild turkey populations are declining in Kansas.
David Haukos, associate professor of biology and leader of the Kansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Dan Sullins, assistant professor of biology and faculty member of the unit, received more than $1.8 million to support the research. The primary funding of nearly $1.5 million came from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation.
Haukos studies the effects of environmental and habitat changes on wildlife populations. He specializes in wetland ecology, avian population dynamics, migration ecology, waterfowl and natural resource policy. Sullins studies spatial relationships among wildlife populations, environmental conditions and landscapes. He specializes in species distribution models, population demography and evaluation of nutritional landscapes.
Their research team will examine wild turkey populations and ecology in Kansas to inform state harvest and habitat management. They will capture and mark Eastern and Rio Grande wild turkeys across Kansas public and private lands and place transmitters and leg bands on them to monitor their locations and movements. This will provide information about the turkeys’ habitat use, nesting, reproduction and survival to create population models and support harvest and habitat management.
"Wild turkeys are economically and ecologically valuable game birds in Kansas, and not understanding what’s driving recent population declines is hindering management actions to reverse these declines," said Haukos. "Our goal is to determine potential factors contributing to population declines and provide focused options for management of wild turkeys in Kansas."
Additional funding from K-State’s College of Arts and Sciences and Division of Biology and the National Wild Turkey Federation and its Kansas chapter will support related investigations on things like roost tree viability and usage, food availability for breeding hens and poults, pesticide exposure and diseases among wild turkeys in Kansas and nearby states.