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Movements and habitat use of White-fronted geese during the remigial molt in Arctic Alaska, USA

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Full Publication:

Product Type: Journal Article

Year: 2017

Authors: Flint, P. L. and B. W. Meixell

Suggested Citation:
Flint, P. L. and B. W. Meixell. 2017. Movements and habitat use of White-fronted geese during the remigial molt in Arctic Alaska, USA. Waterbirds 40(3):272-281. doi:10.1675/063.040.0308


Proposed oil and gas leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska has raised questions about possible impacts of development on molting Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons frontalis) and their habitats. We used GPS transmitters to record fine-scale location data of molting and post-molt White-fronted Geese to assess patterns of movement and resource selection relative to vegetation class, year (2012, 2013), and body mass at capture. Molting White-fronted Geese were located an average of 63.3 ± 4.9 m (SE) from lakeshores. Estimated terrestrial home range size for flightless birds differed between years (2012 = 13.2 ± 2.6 km2; 2013 = 6.5 ± 1.8 km2), but did not vary among habitat strata or with body mass. Molting White-fronted Geese used sedge (Carex aquatilus) dominated low centered polygons and water more frequently than expected given proportional habitat availability, but avoided tussock tundra and wet sedge vegetation classes. Upon regaining flight, individuals tended to remain in the same general area, and the center of their home range only moved an average of 6.9 km. Greater White-fronted Geese that could fly tended to forage further from lakeshores ( = 245 m), and used a larger home range ( = 44.3 ± 9.5 km2) than when flightless.

Keywords: Anser albifrons frontalis, flightless molt, Greater White-fronted Goose, habitat use, home range, movement rate, National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska

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