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Although forage quality strongly affects gosling growth and consequently juvenile survival, the relative use of different plant communities by brood rearing geese has been poorly studied. On the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, population growth and juvenile recruitment of Emperor Geese (Chen canagica) are comparatively low, and it is unknown whether their selection of habitats during brood rearing differs from other goose species. Radio-telemetry was used to document the use of habitats by 56 families of Emperor Geese in a 70 km2 portion of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta during brood rearing in 1994-1996. When contrasted with available habitats (a set of six habitat classes), as estimated from 398 random sampling locations, Emperor Geese strongly selected Saline Ponds, Mudflat, and Ramenskii Meadow habitats and avoided Levee Meadow, Bog Meadow, and Sedge Meadow. These selected habitats were the most saline, comprised one-third of the study area, and 43% of all locations were in Ramenskii Meadow. I contrasted these Emperor Goose locations with habitats used by the composite goose community, as inferred from the presence of goose feces at random locations. The marked difference between groups in this comparison implied that Cackling Canada Geese (Branta canadensis minima) and Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) collectively selected much different brood rearing habitats than Emperor Geese. Received 20 February 2001, accepted 18 April 2001.
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Selection of habitats by Emperor Geese during brood rearing