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Importance of Some Roosts Over Others

This Turkey Tuesday is about roosts and the fact that some are more important than others. Roosts are critical to the ecology of wild turkeys, as they offer places where individuals can sleep while being afforded safety and protection from the weather. Recent work reveals that hens have a small number of roosts within their home ranges that are strategically important – these are termed hub roosts. In the 2nd image, you can see the hub roosts (red) versus satellite roosts (yellow). Not only are hub roosts used more than other roosts, but they’re also important in connecting the hen’s movements to other roosts – in other words, these hub roosts serve as a conduit. Hub roosts appear to be closer to water and open areas, as well as closer to lightly traveled roads – collectively these features offer foraging areas, free water, and travel routes to move about her range. It also appears that hens establish an organized network of roosts centered around these hub roosts, indicating the importance of identifying where these roosts may be located and managing to sustain or even enhance them. The take home is, we’ve known for decades that places wild turkeys sleep are important to their survival, but it appears these roosts in many ways may follow the classic hub and spoke model.

Photo of hen by Joe Foster.

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