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Latitudinal variation in population structure of wintering Pacific Black Brant

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Latitudinal variation in population structure during the winter has been reported in many migratory birds, but has been documented in few species of waterfowl. Variation in environmental and social conditions at wintering sites can potentially influence the population dynamics of differential migrants. We examined latitudinal variation in sex and age classes of wintering Pacific Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans). Brant are distributed along a wide latitudinal gradient from Alaska to Mexico during the winter. Accordingly, migration distances for brant using different wintering locations are highly variable and winter settlement patterns are likely associated with a spatially variable food resource. We used resightings of brant banded in southwestern Alaska to examine sex and age ratios of birds wintering at Boundary Bay in British Columbia, and at San Quintin Bay, Ojo de Liebre Lagoon, and San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California from 1998 to 2000. Sex ratios were similar among wintering locations for adults and were consistent with the mating strategy of geese. The distribution of juveniles varied among wintering areas, with greater proportions of juveniles observed at northern (San Quintin Bay and Ojo de Liebre Lagoon) than at southern (San Ignacio Lagoon) locations in Baja California. We suggest that age-related variation in the winter distribution of Pacific Black Brant is mediated by variation in productivity among individuals at different wintering locations and by social interactions among wintering family groups.

Keywords: Branta bernicla nigricans; Pacific Black Brant; latitudinal variation; population structure; winter

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503, USA

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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