Evidence of territoriality and species interactions from spatial point-pattern analyses of subarctic-nesting geese.

Research paper by Matthew E ME Reiter, David E DE Andersen

Indexed on: 07 Dec '13Published on: 07 Dec '13Published in: PloS one


Quantifying spatial patterns of bird nests and nest fate provides insights into processes influencing a species' distribution. At Cape Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, recent declines in breeding Eastern Prairie Population Canada geese (Branta canadensis interior) has coincided with increasing populations of nesting lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) and Ross's geese (Chen rossii). We conducted a spatial analysis of point patterns using Canada goose nest locations and nest fate, and lesser snow goose nest locations at two study areas in northern Manitoba with different densities and temporal durations of sympatric nesting Canada and lesser snow geese. Specifically, we assessed (1) whether Canada geese exhibited territoriality and at what scale and nest density; and (2) whether spatial patterns of Canada goose nest fate were associated with the density of nesting lesser snow geese as predicted by the protective-association hypothesis. Between 2001 and 2007, our data suggest that Canada geese were territorial at the scale of nearest neighbors, but were aggregated when considering overall density of conspecifics at slightly broader spatial scales. The spatial distribution of nest fates indicated that lesser snow goose nest proximity and density likely influence Canada goose nest fate. Our analyses of spatial point patterns suggested that continued changes in the distribution and abundance of breeding lesser snow geese on the Hudson Bay Lowlands may have impacts on the reproductive performance of Canada geese, and subsequently the spatial distribution of Canada goose nests.