Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Use of foster parents in species conservation may cause conflicting objectives: Hybridization between Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus and Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis

Liljebäck, Niklas; Koffijberg, Kees; Kowallik, Christine; Månsson, Johan; Andersson, Åke


Following the use of Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis as foster parents in a conservation program for the endangered Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus in Sweden 1981–1999, mixed breeding pairs of the two species were established in the wild. We find indications that this was related to shared moulting habits of the two species in the Bothnian Sea during late 1990s. Starting in 2003, five mixed pairs produced at least 49 free-flying hybrid offspring until 2013, when the last breeding was confirmed. Reported numbers of hybrids did not increase in parallel to the production of young hybrids over time. After 2013, the number of hybrids started to decrease in Sweden and the Netherlands. Lower numbers of hybrids than expected can partly be explained by management actions taken, but may also be associated with low survival due to genetic outbreeding. Mixed pairs and their offspring entirely adopted the migratory habits of Barnacle Geese, overlapping very little with sites used by Lesser White-fronted Geese. We find no evidence that the hybrids ever posed a serious threat to Lesser White-fronted Geese breeding in Fennoscandia.


translocation; intergeneric hybrid; distribution; wintering grounds; migration route; Anatidae

Published in

Ornis Svecica
2021, Volume: 31, pages: 125-138

      SLU Authors

    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Fish and Wildlife Management

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)