Impact of the Arctic fox Alopex lagopus on nesting success of geese in southeast Svalbard, 1989
AbstractGoose populations, with special emphasis on Light-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicla hrota, were censured in Tusenøyane and Tjuvfjorden, southeast Svalbard, July-August 1989. A total of 425 non-breeding Brent Geese, 210 Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis and 421 Pink-footed Geese Anser bra-chyrhynchus and 11, 2 and 3 families of the three species, respectively, were counted. Brent Geese attempted to nest on 6 of the 20 islands surveyed, and were successful on four. Barnacle Geese attempted to nest on three islands and were successful on two. Many islands known to be traditional nesting sites were entirely void of geese. Pink-footed Geese were only seen in Tjuvfjorden. The breeding failure on the islands was linked to the presence of the Arctic fox Alopex lagopus which probably caused the geese to completely give up the attempt to nest. On one island the fox had apparently arrived after nest initiation and ravaged 45 Brent Goose and Barnacle Goose nests. It is likely that the foxes stranded on the islands during ice break-up. As a consequence of the presence of foxes on most of Tusenøyane, more than half of the potential breeding segment of the Svalbard Brent Goose population failed to nest in the summer of 1989.
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