Ecological implications of reduced forage quality on growth and survival of sympatric geese

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Abstract

Growth trajectories of Canada and lesser snow goose goslings raised on grass-based diets (protein: 10%, 14%, 18%; fibre: 30%, 45%) revealed size-related differences in growth and survival in response to diminished diet quality. Canada goose goslings were able to slow growth rates and delay reaching adult size in response to low protein in the diet, whereas snow goose goslings maintained high growth rates and were unable to survive on the low-protein diets. These differences in growth strategy indicate a sensitive, but species-specific, response to changes in forage quality and quantity in arctic ecosystems caused by abundance of the geese themselves or by climate change.

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