Habitat use of barnacle geese at a subarctic salt marsh in the Kolokolkova Bay, Russia

AJ van der Graaf*, OV Lavrinenko, [No Value] Elsakov, MR van Eerden, J Stahl

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Along the east Atlantic migratory flyway, goose and swan species rely on the availability of suitable coastal habitats as staging sites during migration and for breeding. Especially for the Russian part of the flyway, detailed descriptions of these habitats in relation to use by herbivores are lacking. We report on salt-marsh characteristics and habitat use by barnacle geese in a recently established breeding site, near the village Tobseda at Kolokolkova Bay in the Pechora Delta, Russia. A classification of plant communities was made and both vegetation and soil properties were measured. Goose visitation was assessed by counting droppings. From the bay towards the dunes there was a gradient of decreasing salinity, along with a gradual shift in plant communities from salt marshes to freshwater bogs, tundra and dunes. Barnacle geese visited salt-marsh communities of the low and middle marsh more than the high marsh and non-saline communities. Two low marsh communities were preferred. Both had high tiller densities and low canopy heights and were dominated by Carex subspathacea, a species with high forage quality. Those characteristics are selected by geese, but might be maintained through grazing. The salt marsh at our site bears similarities to other marshes at similar latitudes along the Russian coast and in Canada. We discuss whether processes like grazing facilitation and habitat degeneration through overgrazing occur on our site.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)651-660
    Number of pages10
    JournalPolar Biology
    Volume27
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-2004

    Keywords

    • LESSER SNOW GEESE
    • PLANT-GROWTH
    • SHOOT DEMOGRAPHY
    • GOOSE HERBIVORY
    • GRAZING LAWNS
    • BRENT GEESE
    • NITROGEN
    • VEGETATION
    • DYNAMICS
    • ALASKA

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