Lesser snow geese (Anser c. caerulescens) from the Wrangel Island, Russia breeding colony spend the winter in two widely separated areas: the northern subpopulation in southern British Columbia and northern Washington and the southern subpopulation in the Central Valley of California. We examined 19 trace elements in the eggs and livers of geese from these two subpopulations to examine whether geese from the different wintering areas have similar trace element burdens. Eggs collected at the breeding colony from geese of the southern subpopulation had slightly higher levels of manganese, an element that can cause neurological damage and behavioral changes in chicks, than geese of the northern subpopulation. Livers from adult geese collected on the two wintering areas showed significant differences in trace elements including copper, iron, magnesium, molybdenum, and zinc. Copper concentrations in the livers of geese from the southern subpopulation were much higher than those from the northern subpopulation (x?? = 116 vs. 46 ppm; dry weight). Elevated levels of copper may induce anemia in birds. The differences in trace element concentrations of these two subpopulations may be related to farming practices in their wintering areas. Geese from the northern subpopulation feed in pastures and coastal marshes and migrate along the coast, but geese from the southern subpopulation feed predominantly in rice fields and migrate over farm land. Copper and manganese are major components of fertilizers and fungicides commonly applied during rice cultivation.
Additional Publication Details
Trace element concentrations in two subpopulations of lesser snow geese from Wrangel Island, Russia
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology