We collected greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons frontalis) on their nesting grounds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, when they arrived and again before incubation during 1986 and 1987. Body mass, water content, crude fat, and crude protein increased in female geese between arrival and incubation onset in 1986 and 1987 (P = 0.0001, 0.0002, 0.0329, and 0.0003, respectively). Body mass of male geese during prenesting did not change, but total fat content decreased by about 30%. Crude protein of males was different between years (P = 0.0014). Female geese spent more time feeding than did males (P < 0.001). Primary foods during the prenesting period were pendent grass (Arctophila fulva) shoots and arrowgrass (Triglochin palustris) bulbs. Gizzard contents and orifice staining indicated crowberries (Empetrum nigrum) also were consumed. Of the commonly consumed food items, arrowgrass bulbs had the greatest protein content (21%), and crowberries had the greatest lipid content (10%). Unlike other medium-sized, northern-nesting geese, food (energy) acquired on the nesting grounds by white-fronted geese before incubation increased endogenous reserves necessary for reproduction.
Additional publication details
Energy dynamics, foraging ecology, and behavior of prenesting greater white-fronted geese