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Response of pink-footed geese to the loss of a key autumn staging area


In this study the response of pink-footed geese was analysed to determine the impact of suddenly losing a major autumn staging area along their migration corridor, Filsø in Denmark. This followed the re-establishment of a former lake on open arable land which had served as foraging site to tens of thousands of geese. Comparisons of goose usage before and after the restoration event revealed that (1) approximately 80 % of pink-footed geese abandoned this staging area and (2) formerly site-faithful geese moved to other staging areas along the Danish west coast rather than moving further south to the Netherlands. The study suggests that, at least for pink-footed geese, the cognitive plasticity necessary to alter site use allows a swift response to rapidly changing environmental conditions. This may partly be due to the agricultural habitat use of this species, leaving them plenty of alternatives in the modern Danish landscape.

The study is described in a paper published in the Journal of Ornithology and is available on-line.

A PDF copy is attached:

Foraging geese. Photo by: Kevin Clausen