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Body condition of wintering Pacific greater white-fronted geese

February 2, 2021

Extreme changes to key waterfowl habitats in the Klamath Basin (KB) on the Oregon–California border and the Sacramento Valley (SV) in California, USA, have occurred since 1980. The spatial distribution of Pacific greater white‐fronted geese (Anser albifrons sponsa; geese) has likewise changed among these areas and population size has grown from 79,000 to >600,000 geese during the same period. To assess the effects of landscape changes and spatial‐temporal distribution of geese, we collected Pacific greater white‐fronted geese during winters of 2009–2010 and 2010–2011 in the KB and SV and compared their body condition to geese collected during 1979–1980 and 1980–1981. We modeled body and lipid mass to assess body condition for each sex independently and examined the influence of collection day, year, and region. Body condition of geese varied throughout the winter and within years in a nonlinear fashion. We detected an increase in body condition in both sexes during December and January in the SV, which corresponds with improved habitat conditions and increases seen in other species in the region. Body condition upon arrival in fall migration varied by year for females and by year and region for males. Males and females arrived in poorer body condition during 2010–2011 than all other study years and males in the KB during 2010–2011 had extremely low lipid mass, reflecting poor regional habitat conditions induced by drought. Body condition of females varied over spring, by year, and by region and regional effects were evident for males. Body condition was significantly higher for geese in the SV than in the KB during spring. Our results suggest that Pacific greater white‐fronted geese have adapted to a changing landscape and have adjusted historical spatial use patterns to take advantage of more favorable conditions in the SV between 1979 and 2010.

Publication Year 2021
Title Body condition of wintering Pacific greater white-fronted geese
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21997
Authors Daniel A. Skalos, John M. Eadie, Daniel R. Yparraguirre, Melanie L. Weaver, Shaun L. Oldenburger, Craig R. Ely, Julie L. Yee, Joseph P. Fleskes
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70218008
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center