10 Oct 2012
Travels in a changing world: flexibility and constraints in migration and breeding of the Barnacle Goose

BRANTA — Götz Eichhorn

Travels in a changing world: flexibility and constraints in migration and breeding of the Barnacle Goose

Institution: University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Supervisor(s): R.H. Drent and J.P. Bakker
Details: PhD, 2008 (Completed)

Address: Institut Pluridisciplinaire H. Curien - Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie, UDS, CNRS , 23 rue Becquerel, 67087 Strasbourg, France Email

Subject Keywords: adaptation, global change, climate change, latitude, migration, migration timing, range expansion, survival, timing of reproduction, cost of reproduction, capital breeding, energetics, incubation, body composition, body stores, tracking, geolocation, Wadden Sea, Arctic
Species Keyword: Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
Thesis online here



Maximising fitness means, to a large extent, optimising management of time and energy. This thesis investigates aspects of timing and resource acquisition and utilisation in the barnacle goose Branta leucopsis during spring migration and reproduction. The barnacle goose population wintering along the Wadden Sea coast, and traditionally migrating via a stopover in the Baltic to its breeding sites in northern Russia, has shown some remarkable developments, among them, a geometric growth rate since the 1950s and a notable change in the timing of departure from the wintering grounds. Furthermore, long being regarded as an obligate Arctic breeder, within the past three decades this species has successfully colonised a wide variety of habitats at temperate latitudes, thereby shortening the migratory distances considerably or refraining from migration altogether.
These remarkable changes raise questions about the flexibility of migratory and reproductive schedules. What are the costs and benefits of different migration strategies? And, given the context of global change, to what extent are animals capable of adapting to rapidly changing environments? In order to answer these questions we tracked migratory geese by satellite and with the help of data loggers and, furthermore, explored possible relationships of migratory behaviour and breeding performance. Another central topic of the thesis represents a within-species comparison of major life-history traits in populations breeding along a large ecological gradient from arctic to temperate environments. Fieldwork was conducted in arctic Russia, Sweden and The Netherlands.
The thesis pdf (either complete or single chapters) can be accessed via https://dissertations.ub.rug.nl/faculties/science/2008/g.eichhorn/.


Published Papers

Jonker RM, Eichhorn G, van Langevelde F & Bauer S (2010) Predation danger can explain changes in timing of migration: the case of the Barnacle goose. PLoS ONE 5: e11369.
Eichhorn G, Van der Jeugd HP, Meijer HAJ & Drent RH (2010) Fuelling incubation: differential use of body stores in arctic and temperate-breeding barnacle geese. Auk 127: 162-172.
Van der Jeugd HP, Eichhorn G, Litvin KE, Stahl J, Larsson K, Van der Graaf AJ & Drent RH (2009) Keeping up with early springs: rapid range expansion in an avian herbivore incurs a mismatch between reproductive timing and food supply. Global Change Biology 15: 1057-1071.
Eichhorn G, Drent RH, Stahl J, Leito A & Alerstam T (2009) Skipping the Baltic: the emergence of a dichotomy of alternative spring migration strategies in Russian barnacle geese. Journal of Animal Ecology 78: 63-72.
Eichhorn G & Visser GH (2008) Evaluation of the deuterium dilution method to estimate body composition in the barnacle goose: accuracy and minimum equilibration time. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 81: 508-518.
Drent RH, Eichhorn G, Flagstad A, Van der Graaf AJ, Litvin KE & Stahl J (2007) Migratory connectivity in Arctic geese: spring stopovers are the weak links in meeting targets for breeding. Journal of Ornithology 148: S501-S514.
Eichhorn G, Afanasyev V, Drent RH & Van der Jeugd HP (2006) Spring stopover routines in Russian barnacle geese Branta leucopsis tracked by resightings and geolocation. Ardea 94: 667-678.
Eichhorn G (2005) Northward bound: fat for flight: How barnacle geese budget their spring travels. In: Drent RH, Bakker JP, Piersma T & Tinbergen JM (eds). Seeking Nature's Limits: Ecologists in the field. pp. 84-90. KNNV Publishing, Utrecht.
Van der Jeugd HP, Gurtovaya EN, Eichhorn G, Litvin KE, Mineev OYu & Van Eerden M (2003) Breeding barnacle geese in Kolokolkova Bay, Russia: number of breeding pairs, reproductive success, and morphology.Polar Biology 26: 700-706.

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