Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Evaluating indices of lipid and protein content in lesser snow and Ross's geese during spring migration

June 1, 2018

Assessing nutrient stores in avian species is important for understanding the extent to which body condition influences success or failure in life‐history events. We evaluated predictive models using morphometric characteristics to estimate total body lipids (TBL) and total body protein (TBP), based on traditional proximate analyses, in spring migrating lesser snow geese (Anser caerulescens caerulescens) and Ross's geese (A. rossii). We also compared performance of our lipid model with a previously derived predictive equation for TBL developed for nesting lesser snow geese. We used external and internal measurements on 612 lesser snow and 125 Ross's geese collected during spring migration in 2015 and 2016 within the Central and Mississippi flyways to derive and evaluate predictive models. Using a validation data set, our best performing lipid model for snow geese better predicted TBL (root mean square error [RMSE] of 23.56) compared with a model derived from nesting individuals (RMSE = 48.60), suggesting the importance of season‐specific models for accurate lipid estimation. Models that included body mass and abdominal fat deposit best predicted TBL determined by proximate analysis in both species (lesser snow goose, R2 = 0.87, RMSE = 23.56: Ross's geese, R2 = 0.89, RMSE = 13.75). Models incorporating a combination of external structural measurements in addition to internal muscle and body mass best predicted protein values (R2 = 0.85, RMSE = 19.39 and R2 = 0.85, RMSE = 7.65, lesser snow and Ross's geese, respectively), but protein models including only body mass and body size were also competitive and provided extended utility to our equations for field applications. Therefore, our models indicated the importance of specimen dissection and measurement of the abdominal fat pad to provide the most accurate lipid estimates and provide alternative dissection‐free methods for estimating protein.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2018
Title Evaluating indices of lipid and protein content in lesser snow and Ross's geese during spring migration
DOI 10.1002/wsb.867
Authors Elisabeth B. Webb, Drew N. Fowler, Brendan A. Woodall, Mark P. Vrtiska
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wildlife Society Bulletin
Series Number
Index ID 70197403
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Atlanta

Related Content