We documented gosling size in late summer, adult body size, and clutch size of known-age Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) females nesting on the Tutakoke River colony between 1986 and 1995. During this period, the colony increased from 1,100 to >5,000 nesting pairs. Gosling mass at 30 days of age declined from 764 ?? SE of 13 g and 723 ?? 15 g for males and females, respectively, in the 1986 cohort, to 665 ?? 18 g and 579 ?? 18 g in the 1994 cohort. Gosling size was directly negatively correlated with number of Black Brant broods. We detected no trend in adult body size for individuals from these cohorts; in fact, adults from the 1992 and 1994 cohorts had the largest overall masses. Clutch size increased with age from 3.4 eggs for 2-year-old females to 4.4 eggs for 5-year-old females. Clutch size declined during the study by 0.20 (3-year-old females) to 0.45 (2-year-old females) eggs. Clutch size did not decline between the 1986 and 1990 cohorts for females that were >5 years old. Our results for clutch size and gosling size are similar to those recorded for Lesser Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens). Our failure to detect a trend in adult body size, however, differs from the response of other geese to increasing population density. We interpret this difference in effects of density on adult size between Black Brant and other geese as an indication of stronger selection against the smallest individuals in Black Brant relative to other species of geese.
Additional publication details
Density-dependent effects on growth, body size, and clutch size in black brant