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Geographic variation in migratory behavior of greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons)

January 1, 1996

We studied the migration and winter distribution of adult Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons frontalis) radio-marked on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) and Bristol Bay Lowlands (BBL) of Alaska from 1987 to 1992. The major autumn staging site for geese from both breeding areas was the Klamath Basin on the California/Oregon border. However, temporal use of this area differed markedly between populations. Geese from the BBL arrived at the Klamath Basin nearly 30 days before geese from the YKD and departed before most YKD geese had arrived. Ninety percent of BBL geese used the Klamath Basin in autumn, whereas 30% of YKD geese bypassed the Klamath Basin during autumn and instead flew directly to the Central Valley of California. Nearly all BBL geese migrated directly from the Klamath Basin to wintering areas in Mexico, bypassing the Central Valley. Ninety percent of the BBL geese wintered in Mexico, as opposed to <20% of the YKD geese. Wetlands of the Interior Highlands in the state of Chihuahua, particularly Laguna Babicora, were used by >90% of the radio-marked geese in Mexico. Marshes along the West Coast comprised the other important wintering habitat in Mexico. The Sacramento Valley of California was the predominant wintering area for YKD geese. BBL geese migrated north from Mexico into the San Joaquin Valley or Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta of California by the last week of January. Fifty-five percent of the BBL population used the Klamath Basin in spring, but many birds staged in eastern Oregon and western Idaho. In contrast, geese from the YKD staged almost exclusively in the Klamath Basin during spring before flying to staging areas in Alaska. Breeding allopatry and temporal partitioning on staging and wintering areas likely has contributed to the evolution of previously described phenotypic differences between these populations. These two populations, along with the Tule Greater White-fronted Goose (A. a. gambeli), may constitute a portion of a Rassenkreis, a group of subspecies connected by clines, each ecotype of which has independent conservation needs.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1996
Title Geographic variation in migratory behavior of greater white-fronted geese (<i>Anser albifrons</i>)
DOI 10.2307/4088866
Authors Craig R. Ely, John Y. Takekawa
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Auk
Series Number
Index ID 1007452
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center

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