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Using snow conditions in Svalbard to predict the breeding success of pink-footed geese

A study has used snow conditions in Svalbard to predict the breeding success of the pink-footed goose. The authors predict that with a climate-induced decrease in snow cover in Svalbard, the population of pink-footed geese will increase its growth, at least in the short term. In addition, this study is important in helping to predict the annual harvest and evaluate the optimal harvest strategy to ensure the population is maintain in a stable state and in favourable conservation status.

The study built upon local observations that showed that snow cover influenced breeding success of pink-footed geese. It up-scaled the analysis to the whole Svalbard population by examining various measures of snow conditions and compared them with the overall breeding success of the population, based on the proportion of juveniles in the autumn population counts. The results indicate that the breeding potential of the population may have been released, due to the recent advancement of spring in Svalbard and reproduction not being constrained by snow cover in the early part of the breeding season.

The study is described in an article published in Polar Biology and is available on-line. A PDF copy is also available in the Publications section.

Date added: 06.12.2013

Pink-footed goose sitting on nest, Svalbard, Norway.