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Habitat and Food Selection by Emperor Goose Goslings
Karen K. Laing and Dennis G. Raveling
Vol. 95, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 879-888
Published by: Cooper Ornithological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1369425
Page Count: 10
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The habitat and diet of Emperor Goose (Chen canagica) goslings were studied on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska in 1985 and 1986. We studied diet selection and nutrient content of potential food plants to determine whether Emperor Goose goslings selected food plants to increase nutrient intake. Broods moved from inland nest sites to coastal salt marsh within one week of hatching. This movement resulted in abandonment of areas that contained high densities of Triglochin palustris, a food that was selected in a feeding trial. Wild goslings selected vegetated mudflats in coastal salt marsh, spending 80-82% of their feeding time there, although mudflats covered only 5% of the study area. The relative densities of Puccinellia phryganodes and Carex subspathacea, the two mudflat plant species available on a feeding trial plot, changed over the two years of the study, with P. phryganodes increasing from 65% in 1985 to 84% in 1986. Captive goslings selected C. subspathacea more often than P. phryganodes in 1985, but ate primarily P. phryganodes in 1986. Triglochin palustris was significantly higher in total nitrogen and water content and lower in cell wall content than other available species, but productivity and nutrient value of P. phryganodes and C. subspathacea might increase with grazing. Emperor Geese may leave areas where T. palustris is available to avoid predation or competition. By feeding repeatedly on coastal mudflats goslings are likely to find recently fertilized, nitrogen-rich plant food in a habitat providing refuge from predators.
The Condor © 1993 Cooper Ornithological Society