Density dependence and phenological mismatch: consequences for growth and survival of sub-arctic nesting Canada Geese

Avian Conservation and Ecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

The extent to which species are plastic in the timing of their reproductive events relative to phenology suggests how change might affect their demography. An ecological mismatch between the timing of hatch for avian species and the peak availability in quality and quantity of forage for rapidly growing offspring might ultimately affect recruitment to the breeding population unless individuals can adjust the timing of breeding to adapt to changing phenology. We evaluated effects of goose density, hatch timing relative to forage plant phenology, and weather indices on annual growth of pre-fledging Canada geese (Branta canadensis) from 1993-2010 at Akimiski Island, Nunavut. We found effects of both density and hatch timing relative to forage plant phenology; the earlier that eggs hatched relative to forage plant phenology, the larger the mean gosling size near fledging. Goslings were smallest in years when hatch was latest relative to forage plant phenology, and when local abundance of breeding adults was highest. We found no evidence for a trend in relative hatch timing, but it was apparent that in early springs, Canada geese tended to hatch later relative to vegetation phenology, suggesting that geese were not always able to adjust the timing of nesting as rapidly as vegetation phenology was advanced. Analyses using forage biomass information revealed a positive relationship between gosling size and per capita biomass availability, suggesting a causal mechanism for the density effect. The effects of weather parameters explained additional variation in mean annual gosling size, although total June and July rainfall had a small additive effect on gosling size. Modelling of annual first year survival probability using mean annual gosling size as an annual covariate revealed a positive relationship, suggesting that reduced gosling growth negatively impacts recruitment.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Density dependence and phenological mismatch: consequences for growth and survival of sub-arctic nesting Canada Geese
Series title Avian Conservation and Ecology
DOI 10.5751/ACE-00708-100101
Volume 10
Issue 1
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Society of Canadian Ornithologists
Publisher location Waterloo, ON
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB
Description 15 p.
First page 1
Last page 15
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N