Portal to the Lesser White-fronted Goose

- by the Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose project

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: Freshwater biology

Volume: 64 , Pages: 1183-1195.

DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13294

Language: English

Full reference: Jialin, L., Yifei, J., Yuyu, W., Guangchun, L., Cai, L., Neil, S., & Li, W. 2019. Behavioural plasticity and trophic niche shift: How wintering geese respond to habitat alteration. Freshwater biology 64: 1183-1195. https://www.dx.doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13294

Keywords: behavioural response, hydrological regimes, trophic niche width, trophic position, wintering habitats, China


1. The accelerated rate of human-induced environmental change poses a significant challenge for wildlife. The ability of wild animals to adapt to environmental changes has important consequences for their fitness, survival, and reproduction. Behavioural flexibility, an immediate adjustment of behaviour in response to environmental variability, may be particularly important for coping with anthropogenic change. The main aim of this study was to quantify the response of two wintering goose species (bean goose Anser fabalis and lesser white-fronted goose Anser erythropus) to poor habitat condition at population level by studying foraging behaviour. In addition, we tested whether behavioural plasticity could alter trophic niche. 2. We characterised foraging behaviours and calculated daily home range (HR) of the geese using global positioning system tracking data. We calculated standard ellipse areas to quantify niche width using the δ13C and δ15N values of individual geese. We linked behavioural plasticity with habitat quality using ANCOVA (analysis of covariance) models. We also tested the correlation between standard ellipse areas and HR using ANCOVA model. 3. We found significant differences in geese foraging behaviours between years in their daily foraging area, travel distance and speed, and turning angle. Specifically, the birds increased their foraging area to satisfy their daily energy intake requirement in response to poor habitat conditions. They flew more sinuously and travelled faster and longer distances on a daily basis. For the endangered lesser white-fronted goose, all behaviour variables were associated with habitat quality. For bean goose, only HR and turning angle were correlated with habitat quality. The birds, especially the lesser white-fronted goose, may have had a higher trophic position under poor conditions. 4. Our findings indicate that wintering geese showed a high degree of behavioural plasticity. However, more active foraging behaviours under poor habitat condition did not lead to a broader trophic niche. Habitat availability could be responsible to the divergent responses of foraging HR and isotopic niche to human-induced environmental change. Therefore, maintaining natural hydrological regimes during the critical period (i.e. September–November) to ensure that quality food

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: The Science of the total environment

Volume: 636 , Pages: 30-38

DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.04.247

Language: English

Full reference: Zhang, P., Zou, Y., Xie, Y., Zhang, H., Liu, X., Gao, D., & Yi, F. 2018. Shifts in distribution of herbivorous geese relative to hydrological variation in East Dongting Lake wetland, China. The Science of the total environment 636: 30-38 https://www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.04.247

Keywords: Hydrological regime, East Dongting Lake, China, distribution dynamic, percentage similarity, NDVI


Studies on distribution dynamics of waterbirds and the relation with hydrological changes are essential components of ecological researches. East Dongting Lake is a Ramsar site and especially important wintering ground for herbivorous geese along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. In this paper, based on annual (2008/09–2016/17) waterbird census data, we investigated the spatial-temporal distributions of three herbivorous goose species (Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus, Bean Goose Anser fabalis, and Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons) within East Dongting Lake, and analyzed their distribution dynamics (denoted by percentage similarity index, PSI) relative to variations in hydrological regime. The results demonstrated that the distribution of the globally vulnerable Lesser White-fronted Geese changed obviously between years, whereas that of Bean Geese was more stable. Greater White-fronted Geese suffered drastic distribution variation during the study period. The PSI of Lesser White-fronted Geese was negatively correlated with between-year difference in water recession time and mean water level in October, whereas no obvious trend was found in Bean Geese. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was applied to detect changes in food resources of the geese, and significant correlations were also found between NDVI and hydrological factors. It was inferred that the variations in hydrological regime affected the annual distribution dynamics of LesserWhite-fronted Geese by changing food conditions; whereas the effect on Bean Geese were not reflected in this study. Species traits may explain the differences in distribution dynamics among the three goose species. It was speculated that Lesser Whitefronted Geese might be more sensitive to habitat change, whereas Bean Geese were more resilient. We suggested that regulating hydrological regime was crucial in management works. Our study could offer scientific information for species conservation in the context of habitat changes in East Dongting Lake wetland and provide potential insights into habitat management in this area.

Number of results: 2