Neckbands are commonly used in waterfowl studies (especially geese) to identify individuals for determination of movement and behavior and to estimate population parameters. Substantial neckband loss can adversely affect these research objectives and produce biased survival estimates. We used capture, recovery, and observation histories for lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) banded in the western Arctic, 1993-1996, to estimate neckband retention. We found that neckband retention differed between snow goose breeding colonies at Wrangel Island, Russia, and Banks Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. Male snow geese had higher neckband loss than females, a pattern similar to that found for Canada geese (Branta canadensis) and lesser snow geese in Alaska. We found that the rate of neckband loss increased with time, suggesting that neckbands are lost as the plastic deteriorates. Survival estimates for geese based on resighting neckbands will be biased unless estimates are corrected for neckband loss. We recommend that neckband loss be estimated using survival estimators that incorporate recaptures, recoveries, and observations of marked birds. Research and management studies using neckbands should be designed to improve neckband retention and to include the assessment of neckband retention.
Additional Publication Details
Neckband retention for lesser snow geese in the western Arctic