Andrea Kölzsch, Onderzoeker, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell (Germany)
Juvenile performance determines the population dynamics of all species. Parental care aims at improving juvenile survival and fitness, but is carried out in levels that differ greatly between and within species. Most geese experience comparatively much parental care, i.e. juveniles stay with their parents at least throughout their first migration, but often up to several years. However, how much they really learn from their parents and if their future behaviour is similar to that of their parents remain open questions.
We have developed techniques to follow complete families of white-fronted geese Anser albifrons with GPS and accelerometer to get a first glimpse on their family life on the wing. So far, we could successfully tag 13 complete goose families and follow 7 of them during winter and spring migration.
Andrea presents first findings of winter family dynamics and flight formation patterns during spring migration. Interestingly, even if the adult male often leads the family group during migration, he does not expend more energy than his chicks or the female. Our findings relate to studies on the movement of juveniles of species without long parental care and provide new insights for goose ecology that will be important for management and conservation.