We conducted aerial surveys of Lesser Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) during autumn staging on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeast Alaska from late August through September, 1982 - 1993. We evaluated numbers and distribution of Snow Geese that staged on the ANWR, compared abundance of birds among 5 ?? 5-km cells used frequently (5 - 8 yr), periodically (3 - 4 yr), or infrequently (1 - 2 yr), and examined distribution changes within years. Maximum numbers of Snow Geese observed annually were highly variable (range 12,828 - 309,225). Snow Goose flocks occurred across 605,000 ha of the coastal plain, but used some areas more frequently than others. Frequently used cells (38 of 363 cells in the study area) were non-randomly distributed and primarily occurred on the central coastal plain between the wet coastal and steep foothills regions. Abundance of geese was greatest in frequently used, intermediate in periodically used, and lowest in infrequently used cells. Within years, Snow Goose numbers and flock locations varied between surveys, possibly because geese moved to different foraging areas during staging. The widespread distribution and annual variability in numbers of Snow Geese on the coastal plain was likely because birds used foraging habitats that were spatially and temporally heterogeneous. The ANWR coastal plain is an important component of the fall-staging area used by Snow Geese that nest in the western Canadian Arctic. Management decisions that affect the region should reflect its value to migrating Snow Geese.
Additional Publication Details
Distribution of autumn-staging Lesser Snow Geese on the northeast coastal plain of Alaska [Distribucio??n de Chen caerulescens a trave??s de su congregacio??notonal]