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Volume 11 • Number 4 • December 2003

Article

Vol. 11No. 4pp. 193–232
Agriculture has provided a nutritional subsidy to the Anatidae (swans, geese, ducks), which has affected their trophic relationships and the Arctic wetlands where they breed. The Mid-Continent Population of lesser snow geese, which breeds in the Canadian Arctic and which traditionally wintered in the coastal marshes of the Gulf States, now feeds in agricultural landscapes. The geometric growth of this population since 1970 is coincident with increased application of nitrogen to farmland and high crop yields. Widespread availability of agricultural foods allows the birds to meet much of their energy demand for migration and reproduction. Their migration conforms to a stepping stone model linked to land use, but feeding also takes place upon arrival on the Arctic breeding grounds. High bird numbers have dramatically affected coastal marshes of the Canadian Arctic. Foraging has produced alternative stable states characterized by sward destruction and near irreversible changes in soil properties of exposed sediments. Locally, this loss of resilience has adversely affected different groups of organisms, resulting in an apparent trophic cascade. A spring hunt was introduced in 1999 in an attempt to check population growth. The current annual cull is now thought to be higher than the replacement rate. Much of the decline of the Mid-Continent Population is probably linked to shooting, but the harassment of birds that fail to acquire sufficient food for reproduction may contribute. The agricultural food subsidy has led to a mismatch between this avian herbivore and its environment — a consequence of migratory connectivity that links wintering and breeding grounds. Key words: agricultural crops, lesser snow geese, migratory connectivity, Arctic coastal marshes, grubbing, hypersalinity, the spring hunt.

Index

Content

List of Issues
Volume 31
Issue 4
December 2023
Volume 31
Issue 3
September 2023
Volume 31
Issue 2
June 2023
Volume 31
Issue 1
March 2023
Volume 30
Issue 4
December 2022
Volume 30
Issue 3
September 2022