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Spring temperature, migration chronology, and nutrient allocation to eggs in three species of arctic‐nesting geese: Implications for resilience to climate warming

Global Change Biology

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https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14418

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Abstract

The macronutrients that Arctic herbivores invest in their offspring are derived from endogenous reserves of fat and protein (capital) that females build prior to the period of investment or from foods they consume concurrently with investment (income). The relative contribution from each source can be influenced by temporal and environmental constraints on a female's ability to forage on Arctic breeding areas. Warming temperatures and advancing Arctic phenology may alter those constraints. From 2011–2014, we examined relationships among spring temperature, timing of migration and reproduction, and the sources of nutrients females deposited in eggs for three sympatric species of geese that nested in northern Alaska. Compared to lesser snow geese (Anser caerulescens caerulescens) and greater white‐fronted geese (Anser albifrons frontalis), black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) were more likely to initiate follicle development during migration, resulting in fewer days between their arrival in the Arctic and the onset of incubation, and requiring a relatively greater capital investment in eggs. Delaying follicle development until after their arrival in the Arctic provided snow geese and white‐fronted geese an opportunity to forage near their nesting area and to deposit exogenous nutrients in eggs. With warmer spring temperatures brant invested more capital in eggs but snow geese invested less capital. Brant likely used capital to meet costs associated with earlier onset of follicle development when phenology was advanced, whereas snow geese used capital to compensate for poor foraging conditions during colder Arctic springs. Global warming is likely to reduce the quality of lower‐latitude marine habitats where brant acquire endogenous reserves, and advancing Arctic phenology may increase their reliance on those reserves during reproduction. Near‐term warming in northern Alaska may improve foraging conditions and favor the reproductive strategies of some herbivores such as snow geese and white‐fronted geese that mainly invest Arctic nutrients in their offspring.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Spring temperature, migration chronology, and nutrient allocation to eggs in three species of arctic‐nesting geese: Implications for resilience to climate warming
Series title:
Global Change Biology
DOI:
10.1111/gcb.14418
Edition:
Online First
Year Published:
2018
Language:
English
Publisher:
Wiley
Contributing office(s):
Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB