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Habitat and Food Preferences of Greylag and Barheaded Geese Wintering in the Keoladeo National Park, India

Beth A. Middleton
Journal of Tropical Ecology
Vol. 8, No. 2 (May, 1992), pp. 181-193
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2559700
Page Count: 13
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Habitat and Food Preferences of Greylag and Barheaded Geese Wintering in the Keoladeo National Park, India
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Abstract

Greylag (Anser anser) and Barheaded Geese (Anser indicus) wintering in the Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India, have habitat and food preferences which are comparable to overwintering geese in other parts of the world. These geese preferred to eat the dominant grass species in the Park, Paspalum distichum, as determined by a comparison of the mean proportion of Paspalum of the total food eaten by Greylag and Barheaded Geese (0.932 & 0.971, respectively) with the mean availability of Paspalum in the wetland (0.795). However, based on a habitat study at the end of their overwintering season in February 1986, both species of geese used sites with the same amount of Paspalum distichum cover (c. 14%) as sites that they did not use (c. 14%). The means of habitat characteristics of sites geese used versus sites they did not use, respectively, are given here in order of their relative preference based on rankings of their standardized means. Greylags preferred sites which were grazed concurrently by other species of herbivores (frequency = 0.9 & 0.4), were farther from trees with Painted Stork nests (Mycteria leucocephala; 981 & 887 m) and from trees in general (49 & 26 m), or had deeper water 61 & 49 cm). However, Greylags did not prefer sites which were farther from open water (65 & 223 m), had been cut by hand (frequency = < 0.1 & 0.1), were farther from vegetation dominated by Vetiveria zizanioides (668 & 842 m), had been bulldozed (frequency = < 0.1 & 0.1), or had any amount of cover of the exotic aquatic weed, Eichhornia crassipes (0.0 & 0.3%). Barheaded Geese preferred sites which were remote from the Park boundary (1156 & 757 m), were farther from any road (423 & 235 m), had been grazed by geese in 1984 (0.3 & <0.1), had higher covers of droppings (0.4 & 0.1%), or had been burned in the previous summer (frequency = 0.2 & 0.1). They did not prefer sites which had deeper water (25 & 61 cm), had been grazed by geese in 1985 (frequency = 0.0 & 0.5), were farther from vegetation dominated by Vetiveria (511 & 733 m), had been bulldozed (frequency = 0.0 & 0.1), or were farther from open water (29 & 115 m). This information can be used to construct management plans for Greylag and Barheaded Geese overwintering in the Keoladeo National Park and other parts of northern India.

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