Migratory Bird Program
Conserving the Nature of America
ARCTIC ECOSYSTEMS IN PERIL: REPORT OF THE ARCTIC GOOSE HABITAT WORKING GROUP

EXPECTED WHITE GOOSE POPULATION EVENTS


If current agricultural and goose management practices are maintained, we expect continued growth of all populations for the foreseeable future, except the Wrangel Island LSGO. The western Arctic and western Central Flyway LSGO populations will escape from control by hunting (i.e., adult survival will increase). Western Arctic spring staging areas and nesting areas, which are predominantly fresh-water environments, should then experience increasing degradation similar to that already documented in these habitats in the Hudson Bay and central Canadian Arctic resulting in a decrease in survival of flightless young and other condition-related effects. More nesting colonies are likely to be established where suitable habitat exists. However, Alisauskas and Boyd (1994) speculate that prime nesting sites of Central Arctic Ross' and Snow Geese (shallow lakes with islands preferred as colony sites) are now in short supply and these geese must exploit other habitats. They appear to be spreading westward and northward into favoured range of small Canada Geese and White-fronted Geese. In southern Hudson Bay, most areas of extensive salt marsh capable of sustaining large colonies are now occupied (K. Abraham, R. Jefferies and A. Jano, unpublished data). Use of other habitats, particularly Carex aquatilis fens, is expected to increase.

Populations of all three white geese may experience an increase in the frequency of disease outbreaks in wintering and migration areas, but the mid-continent LSGO population, at least, appears to have the capacity to absorb many such small events without the overall population growth being slowed. Disease mortality effects on populations of other birds sharing these areas may be more detrimental.

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Last updated: April 11, 2012