Neck bands are a widely used marker in goose research. However, few studies have investigated a possible negative effect of this marker on survival. We tested the effect of neck bands on the survival of adult female greater snow geese (Chen caerulescens atlantica) by marking birds with either a neck band and a metal leg band or a leg band only on Bylot Island (Nunavut, formerly included in the Northwest Territories, Canada) from 1990 to 1996. Annual survival was estimated using leg-band recoveries in fall and winter and using neck-band sightings in spring and fall. Recapture rates were estimated using summer recaptures. Using recovery data, the selected model yielded a survival similar for the neck-banded and leg-banded only birds (S = 0.845 ?? 0.070 vs. S = 0.811 ?? 0.107). The hypothesis of equality of survival between the 2 groups was easily accepted under most constraints imposed on survival or recovery rates. However, failure to account for a different direct recovery rate for neck-banded birds would lead us to incorrectly conclude a possible negative effect of neck bands on survival. Using sighting data, mean annual survival of neck-banded birds was independently estimated at 0.833 ?? 0.057, a value very similar to that estimated with band-recovery analysis. Raw recapture rates during summer were significantly lower for neck-banded birds compared to those marked with leg bands only (4.6% vs. 12.1%), but in this analysis, survival, site fidelity, reproductive status, and recapture rates were confounded. We conclude that neck bands did not affect survival of greater snow geese, but could possibly affect other demographic traits such as breeding propensity and emigration.
Additional publication details
Effects of neck bands on survival of greater snow geese