Glahder, CM, Fox, AD, O'Connell, M, Jespersen, M, Madsen, J (2007). Eastward moult migration of non-breeding pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) in Svalbard. POLAR RESEARCH, 26(1), 31-36.
Six adult male pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus), tagged with satellite transmitters, were tracked in Svalbard during the period of June-September in 2003 and 2004. The purpose of the study was to describe the movements and staging periods of individual geese during the post-breeding period to investigate a possible moult migration among pink-footed geese in Svalbard. All geese moved about 200 km east from their potential breeding (summering) areas in western Spitsbergen. The preferred moulting area was the island of Edgeoya, where four geese staged prior to a southward autumn migration. Five geese left potential breeding areas between 11 and 30 June, and remained for more than 25 days in eastern areas during most of July, which we interpret as the moult migration of either failed or non-breeders. Geese left moulting areas in mid-August, using an average of 1.4 staging areas before the autumn migration, suggesting that moult sites support pre-migration hyperphagia. Only one goose remained at the suspected breeding site from early June to early September. Mean monthly temperatures in the summering and moulting ranges of the geese were calculated from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite data. The mean June moult range temperature (-0.9 degrees C) was significantly lower than that of the summering ranges (4.6 degrees C). The July mean moult range temperature did not differ significantly from that in June on the summering ranges. We contend that failed or non-breeding pink-footed geese move eastward in Svalbard to exploit the early stages of summer plant growth as a result of the delayed thaw compared with central and southern Spitsbergen.