Arctic Facts: How many kinds of geese are there in the Arctic?

As a graduate student it is very valuable to attend various academic conferences related to the systems or topics you work in. Travelling to conferences can be costly and I am fortunate to have very supportive supervisors in my graduate program that are able to provide me with the opportunity to attend such events. This past week I attended the North American Arctic Goose Conference in Winnipeg, Canada. The experience was undoubtedly positive and informative both in meeting biologists whose work I read every day, but also to hear all the current research and plenary talks surrounding arctic geese. As a shorebird biologist I do not have the extensive field experience working with geese and it was great to listen to all the background information revolving around the numerous goose populations in North America. For example, I did not know how many species there were of geese that all look the same as Canada geese but are not……

Check this out.

What is even more interesting is the fact that if you take these different species or subspecies and raise them in the same environment they will grow to be the same size! So ultimately this is a great example of how environmental resources can influence not only the distribution of a species but alter their ability to grow.

Dr. Jim Leafloor
Jim Leafloor, Canadian Wildlife Service, rounding up geese for banding in Nunavut. Credit Tim Moser, USFWS.

Jim Leafloor (read more about Jim), who coordinated and organized the conference this year, gave a great talk surrounding not only the population status of numerous goose populations in North America but also touching on this important fact that even with a good quality photo, some of these birds can’t even be identified to species. This can certainly complicate things when doing population surveys and estimates of increases or declines in their numbers.

(Environmental effects on body size of Canada geese (Leafloor 1998))


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