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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Migration patterns of Swedish Greylag geese Anser anser-implications for flyway management in a changing world

Mansson, Johan; Liljeback, Niklas; Nilsson, Lovisa; Olsson, Camilla; Kruckenberg, Helmut; Elmberg, Johan


Significant population growth of some European goose populations has led to initiatives to implement management at the flyway level. Understanding migration routes and spatiotemporal distribution is crucial for the successful and coordinated management of migratory species such as geese. In this study, we describe movements across the entire annual cycle in 76 Greylag geese (Anser anser) fitted with GPS tracking devices at five catch sites in Sweden. We show that Greylag geese breeding in Sweden still use a NE-SW migration path. However, the wintering range has undergone a northward shift during the last decades. Compared to previous studies, our data suggest a continued reduction in migration distance, being most pronounced in birds in southernmost Sweden. Greylag geese tagged in southernmost Sweden spent almost the entire annual cycle in Sweden and Denmark (97 and 100% of all GPS locations). In contrast, the flyway of Greylag geese from the northern catch sites still covers countries from Sweden to Spain, but presently, only a small fraction of the population migrates to Spain. Instead, most of the annual cycle is spent in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, or Germany. The contrasting spatiotemporal distribution in geese of different geographical origin indicates that management initiatives for the NW/SW European Greylag Goose population need to consider that different migration strategies occur within previously defined management units. As a consequence, coordination of management actions (e.g. monitoring, harvest quotas, reserves) may need to consider different spatial scales, i.e. from the regional to the international scale depending on the origin of the Greylag geese.


Anatidae; Birds; GPS tracking; Movement patterns; Waterfowl

Published in

European Journal of Wildlife Research
2022, Volume: 68, number: 2, article number: 15
Publisher: SPRINGER