Portal to the Lesser White-fronted Goose

- by the Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose project

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: Biological Conservation

Volume: 281

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2023.110028

Language: English


Full reference: Marolla, F., Aarvak, T. Hamel, S., Ims, R.A., Kéry, M., Mellard, J.P., Nater, C.R., Schaub, M., Vougioukalou, M., Yoccoz, N.G. & Øien, I.J. 2023. Life-cycle analysis of an endangered migratory goose to assess the impact of conservation actions on population recovery. Biological Conservation 281. https://www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2023.110028

Keywords: Goose management, State-space model, Management evaluation, Lesser white-fronted goose, Unmarked individuals, Non-breeding dynamics, migration


Evaluating the effectiveness of conservation actions is challenging for migratory species because a population can be impacted anywhere along its route. Conservation actions for the critically endangered Fennoscandian lesser white-fronted goose population include culling of red foxes in the breeding area and habitat improvements and reduction of illegal hunting in the non-breeding areas. One goal of the predator control strategy is to prevent adult birds from using an autumn migration route through western Asia, where mortality is believed to be higher than on the migration route through eastern Europe. We used 23 years of count data obtained at different staging areas to parameterize a seasonal state-space model describing the full-annual cycle dynamics of this population and evaluate whether the recent population recovery was linked to these conservation efforts. The results did not provide evidence that predator control influenced population recovery, as survival on the European route did not appear higher than on the allegedly riskier Asian route. However, adult survival at staging areas on both routes and at wintering sites may have improved in the last decade, suggesting a positive effect of the other conservation initiatives. These results emphasize the importance of including the non-breeding dynamics in population assessments of migratory species and highlight the challenge of evaluating the efficacy of separate conservation actions when a proper experimental design is unfeasible. Our study, which is a unique case of cross-national, coordinated conservation efforts, exemplifies how to model complex population dynamics to assess the influence of costly conservation initiatives.

Number of results: 1