We studied reproductive success and post-breeding movements of 32 adult female emperor geese Chen canagica that were marked with satellite radio transmitters on their nesting area on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD), Alaska 2000-2004. All 16 females that failed to successfully reproduce departed the YKD and moulted remiges either on the north coast of the Chukotka Peninsula, Russia (n=15), or on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska (n=1). Of 16 females that successfully nested, one migrated to Russia following hatch whereas the remainder stayed on the YKD. While moulting on the Chukotka Peninsula, emperor geese with satellite transmitters primarily used coastal lagoons west of Kolyuchin Bay. We observed 21,150 adult-plumaged emperor geese during aerial surveys in Chukotka in 2002. Most (95%) were in the same region used by geese that had been marked with satellite transmitters in Alaska. The number of emperor geese observed in Russia was comparable to our estimate of ???20,000 adults that either do not nest or nest unsuccessfully each year on the YKD, suggesting that most nonproductive adults, or ???28% of the adult population departs the YKD to moult elsewhere. The number of moult migrants may be substantially higher in years of poor reproductive success or if adult-plumaged birds that are not of breeding age also leave the YKD. Moult migration of emperor geese between Alaska and Russia is likely substantially greater than previously believed. Russian moulting habitats are important to the North American population of emperor geese and events that affect survival of geese in Russia could impact population trends on the YKD. Protection of coastal lagoons on the north coast of Chukotka is warranted. ?? Journal of Avian Biology.
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Moult migration of emperor geese Chen canagica between Alaska and Russia