Population ecology of arctic geese in relation to natural predation pressure

Updated 2001-04-10

In order to manage populations of migratory geese a better understanding of the mechanisms that determine the size of these populations is needed. The objective of this project is to investigate such mechanisms, within the framework of the entire population of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, that winters in western Europe, and breeds in northern Siberia. The final objective of this project is to help predict future numbers of geese that will winter in western Europe in order to be able to forecast levels of agricultural damage caused by geese. Though hunting is an important factor determining the size of most goose populations, this is not a focal point in this project. Therefore this project focuses on a virtually non-hunted subspecies, viz. the Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Research activities Field work has been carried out in the Pyasina-delta in northern Taymyr, Russia during six consecutive summers from 1990 - 1995 in order to cover two complete lemming cycles. The project focuses the one hand on natural predators (like arctic foxes, Snowy Owls, Glaucous Gulls and Herring Gulls, and even Polar Bears) as a regulatory mechanism for the Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a virtually non-hunted subspecies. Lemming cycles have an important effect on the abundance and behaviour of most of these predators, and measuring lemming density forms an integral part of this study. On the other hand weather conditions, as well as the body condition of the geese themselves are being studied, because those factors are in themselves extremely important predictors of breeding success.

This is not a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project
Comments and additional information:

Large scale expedition envisaged during lemming peak year 2000

Time frame

Project time span
1989 - 1995
Data collection
- 1995
Data processing
not specified
Data reporting
not specified

Contact information

Contact person
B.S. Ebbinge
Institute for Forestry and Nature Research (IBN-DLO) P.O. Box 23 6700 AA Wageningen Netherlands
+31 317 477770 (inst.) / 478729 (direct)
+31 317 424988
Other project contacts
Visiting address: Droevendaalse steeg 3A Wageningen

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Terrestrial birds
Terrestrial mammals
Additional information or further specification of types of data / information collected, species / tissues / organs sampled, etc.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese Sampling frequency from June-August (6 yrs) Type of data collected: - field observations of individually marked Brent Geese - live and snap-trapping of lemmings - bird inventories - morphological measurements of birds - weather data


Regions studied
Taimyr Peninsula
Taimyr Peninsula
Stations or areas where observations are made

Mys Wostochny, Lidia -- 74.08,86.44 coordinate notation: DMS

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
Data storage in notebooks and on floppy discs Data will be available to other projects from 01-01-2000
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Ebbinge, B.S.1989. A multifactorial explanation for variation in breeding performance of Brent Geese. Ibis 131:196-204. Ebbinge, B.S. 1991. Brent Goose Research in Taimyr 1990. IWRB Goose Research Group Bulletin No.1:8-10. Ebbinge, B.S. & G.C. Boere 1991. Verslag van de Nederlandse deelname aan de internationale Taimyr-expeditie 1990. Rapport R.I.N./ N.M.F. Arnhem 1991. Ebbinge, B.S. 1992. Population Limitation in Arctic-breeding Geese. PhD dissertation University of Groningen, Neth. 200 p. Ebbinge, B.S. & B. Spaans. 1995. The importance of body-reserves accumulated in spring staging areas in the temperate zone for breeding of Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta b. bernicla in the high arctic. J. Avian Biology 26:105-113. Spaans, B. 1992. Reisverslag en overzicht van het onderzoek door de Nederlandse deelnemers aan de internationale expeditie naar het broedgebied van de Rotgans in Noordwest Taimyr in 1991. IBN-rapport, Arnhem. Spaans, B., M. Stock, A. StJoseph, H.-H. Bergmann & B.S. Ebbinge 1993. Breeding biology of dark-bellied brent geese (Branta b. bernicla) in Taimyr in 1990 in the absence of arctic foxes and under favourable weather conditions. Polar Research 12:117-130. Spaans, B., J. Blijleven, I. Popov, M.E. Rykhlikova & B.S. Ebbinge 1998. Dark-bellied Brent Geese forgo breeding when Arctic Foxes are around during nest initiation. Ardea 86 (in press) Syroechkovskiy, Ye.V., Litvin, K.Ye. & Ebbinge, B.S. 1991. Breeding success of geese and swans on Vaygach Island (USSR) during 1986-1988; interplay of weather and arctic fox predation. Ardea 79:373-382. Planned publications Ebbinge, B.S. & B. Spaans. Snowy Owls and Brent Geese: a delicate lemming-driven balance between protection and predation risk.[???] Spaans, B., C.A. van t Hoff, W. van der Veer & B.S. Ebbinge. The nutritional significance of female body stores for egg-laying and incubation in Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta b. bernicla [Ardea] Spaans, B., C.A. van t Hoff, W. van der Veer & B.S. Ebbinge. Incubation energetics of a high-arctic migrant: thermal conditions, supplementary feeding and the use of flown-in body stores in Brent Geese Branta b. bernicla [Auk/Condor] Spaans, B., B. Ganter, G. Müskens & B.S. Ebbinge. Low level nest-site fidelity in Dark-bellied Brent Geese: a consequence of temporary opportunities to escape predation risk ? [???] Spaans, B., W. van der Veer & B.S. Ebbinge. The cost of incubation in Greater White-fronted Geese. Anser a. albifrons [Polar Research]. Film: a 50 minute TV-documentary about this project made by Musch & Tinbergen, entitled Onze Rot-gans in Siberië' (Our Brent Goose in Siberia) has been broadcasted by Dutch and German TV in 1997.
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?
Specimen banking information

Specimens/samples will be available to other projects and/or international programmes

Methods & Procedures

Not specified

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

- Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow - Extreme North Agricultural Research Institute, Norilsk, Russia - Stacja Ornitologicza, Polska Akademia Nauk, Gdansk, Poland - Instituet fur Oekologie, Universitaet Jena, Germany

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

- International Arctic Expedition - INTAS - Stichting WIWO

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