We studied the effects of timing of spring snowmelt on nesting phenology, nest site selection, and clutch size of Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) breeding at the Tutakoke river colony, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. In late springs, brant nested later: however, time between peak arrival at Tutakoke and nest initiation (6 to 12 days) was similar in early and late springs. Nest initiation was more synchronized in late springs than early springs. Height of nests relative to spring meltwater levels was lower in late springs than early springs, indicating that the interval between snowmelt and nest initiation was shorten reduced availability of nest sites and increased nesting synchrony in late years may result in greater competition for available nest sites and reduced site fidelity. Clutch size was greater in late springs than in early springs. This increase in clutch size may result from greater accumulation of endogenous reserves on spring staging areas in late springs, or from demographic changes in the breeding population.
Additional publication details
Effects of spring environment on nesting phenology and clutch size of Black Brant