Lesser Snow Geese, Chen caerulescens caerulescens, and Ross's Geese, Chen rossii, of Jenny Lind Island, Nunavut
Keywords:Lesser Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens caerulescens, Ross's Goose, Chen rossii, population, overabundance, nesting, Jenny Lind Island, Nunavut
AbstractWe surveyed the Lesser Snow (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) and Ross’s geese (Chen rossii) of Jenny Lind Island, Nunavut, using aerial photography in June 1988, 1998, and 2006, and a visual helicopter transect survey in July 1990. The estimated number of nesting geese was 39 154 ± SE 2238 in 1988, 19 253 ± 2323 in 1998, and 21 572 ± 1898 in 2006. In 1988 an estimated 2.7% of the nesting geese were Ross’s. The July 1990 population of adult-plumaged birds was 25 020 ± 3114. The estimated percentage blue morph among Snow and Ross’s geese was 19.0% in 1988, 25.1% in 1989, 23.0% in 1990 and 21.1% in 2006. Estimated pre-fledged Snow Goose productivity was 47% young in 1989 and 46% in 1990. Combined numbers of Snow and Ross’s geese on Jenny Lind Island grew over 250 fold, from 210 adults in 1962-1966 to 54 100 adults in 1985. Numbers subsequently declined, to 42 200 in 1988, 25 000 in 1990, 20 300 in 1998, and 26 400 in 2006. Population decline between 1985 and 1990 was consistent with anecdotal reports by others that die-offs of Snow Geese occurred in 1984, 1985 and 1989, and with our August 1989 fieldwork which found evidence of habitat degradation and malnourishment of young geese. In spite of limited food resources on Jenny Lind Island, the colony continued to exist in 2006 at near its 1990 and 1998 levels. Further studies there could provide insights for management of the overabundant mid-continent Snow Goose population and its arctic habitats.
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