Recovery of tall cotton-grass following real and simulated feeding by snow geese

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Lesser snow geese Anser caerulescens caerulescens from the western Canadian Arctic feed on underground parts of tall cotton-grass Eriophorum angustifolium during autumn staging on the coastal plain of the Beaufort Sea in Canada and Alaska. We studied revegetation of sites where cotton-grass had been removed either by human-imprinted snow geese or by hand to simulate snow goose feeding. Aerial cover of cotton-grass at sites (n = 4) exploited by human-imprinted snow geese averaged 60 and 39% lower than in undisturbed control plots during the first and second year after feeding, respectively. Underground biomass of cotton-grass stembases and rhizomes in hand-treated plots was 80 and 62% less than in control plots 2 and 4 yr after removal, respectively (n = 10 yr-1). Aerial cover and biomass of common non-forage species such as Carex aquatilis did not increase on treated areas. Removal of cotton-grass by geese likely reduces forage availability at exploited sites for at least 2-4 yr after feeding but probably does not affect long-term community composition. Temporal heterogeneity in forage abundance likely contributes to the large spatial requirement of snow geese during staging.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Recovery of tall cotton-grass following real and simulated feeding by snow geese
Series title Ecography
Volume 23
Issue 3
Year Published 2000
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ecography
First page 367
Last page 373
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