Intake rates, stochasticity, or onset of spring-what aspects of food availability affect spring migration patterns in Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus?

Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) Science Article 6


Long-distance bird migration consists of several flight episodes interrupted by a series of resting and refuelling periods on stopover sites. We assessed the role of food availability as the determinant of staging decisions focusing on the following three aspects of food availability: intake rates, stochasticity in intake rates and onset of spring. Using stochastic dynamic modelling, we investigated their impact on staging times and expected fitness. Subsequently, we compared relations in the use of the stopover sites as predicted by the model with empirical data of the Svalbard-breeding population of Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus collected in the period 1990-2002. Our results indicate that, for the case of Pink-footed Geese, spring phenology determines a major part of the migration schedule. In contrast to our expectations, intake rates were generally only of minor importance; however, when approaching the breeding grounds their significance increased.

Bauer S., Madsen J. & Klaassen M, ARDEA 94 (3): 555-566.

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