First-year survival has important implications for the structure and growth of populations. We examined variation in seasonal survival of first-year Pacific Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) marked late in summer in Alaska at two brood-rearing areas on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (Tutakoke and Kokechik) and one area on the Arctic Coastal Plain to provide insight into the magnitude and timing of mortality during fall migration. First-year survival was lower in early fall (15 July-1 October), when birds fledged from brood-rearing areas and migrated to their primary fall staging area at Izembek Lagoon, Alaska, than during late fall and early winter (1 October-15 February), when birds made a long-distance transoceanic flight (>5000 km) to wintering areas in Baja California, Mexico. When compared to other years, monthly survival during early fall was 20-24% lower in 1992, the year of latest hatch dates and slowest growth of goslings. There was strong evidence to indicate that survival varied geographically within the early fall period. Monthly survival estimates during early fall were lowest for birds from Tutakoke, highest for birds from the Arctic Coastal Plain, and intermediate at Kokechik. Our findings revealed that most juvenile mortality occurred during the first 2 months following banding, and variation in juvenile survival during this period was likely influenced significantly by environmental parameters and habitat conditions on the breeding grounds. Monthly survival estimates during the subsequent 4 months were similar across geographic areas, and long-distance migration was likely the most important contributor to juvenile mortality during this period.
Additional publication details
Temporal and geographic variation in survival of juvenile black brant