Field preference of Greylag geese Anser anser during the breeding season

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Few studies address food preference of geese on agricultural land (utilization related to availability) and only a handful so for the breeding season. We studied Greylag geese Anser anser during the breeding season in an intensively farmed area in southern Sweden. Few of 22 available field types were truly preferred. Pastureland was the most consistently preferred, by goslings (with parents) as well as by nonbreeders. In some sampling periods, goslings also preferred grazed hay, ley, and carrot fields. Non-breeders exploited a greater variety of crops/fields, feeding also on barley, fallow, grazed hay, lettuce, oats, potatoes, and carrots. Most of these crops were preferred on at least one sampling occasion, except for fallow, grazed hay, and wheat, which were always used less than expected from availability. GLMs revealed that goslings rested more than they fed and preferred shorter vegetation before higher. Moreover, goslings occurred in higher densities in younger age classes than in older and preferred nearshore areas. In contrast, density of non-breeders was only related to field type and sampling occasion (higher densities as the season progressed). The maximum number of broods observed (106) implies a breeding success of 34% based on311 active nests earlier in the season. Brood size decreased from 3.5 to 2.1 during the study period. Our study shows that goose management during the breeding season should consider goslings and their parents separately from non-breeders, and it implies little potential conflict between Greylag geese and agriculture during the breeding period.

TidskriftEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
StatusPublicerad - 2017

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  • Ekologi (10611)


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