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Title: Winter feeding ecology of the Red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis)
Author: Hulea, G. Danut
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2002
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Our knowledge of the Red-breasted goose population has improved considerably over the last 12 years with work carried out in both the breeding and wintering areas. The Romanian and Bulgarian Dobrogea is the main wintering area of the Red-breasted goose. The population size varied considerable during the study period (October 1998 - March 2001) in the wintering area from 41,195 to 88,425. The weather conditions had a strong influence on the number of the geese wintering in the Dobrogea and within the wintering area, the climate conditions influenced their distribution in most years. Geese were spread across the Dobrogea in both inland and coast regions until December. During the coldest period of the winter, in January, the whole population of Red-breasted goose was concentrated on a few lakes located on the Black Sea coast. Some of these major roost sites are protected as reserves. Most frequently, the Red-breasted geese were seen in the Dobrogea in mixed flocks with the White-fronted geese. The geese feed exclusively on crops, mainly on winter wheat but also on barley. In the late autumn in October and November, they preferred newly sown fields where they fed on seeds of winter wheat left on the surface. Later during the winter, the leaves of winter wheat and barley remained the only food available. Geese preferred to feed closer to the roost from December to February but in January, they showed a preference for fields facing east and south. Other landscape variables such as distance to the roads, distance to the villages and slope, were less important. The carrying capacity of the area was calculated and showed that the area cultivated can presently support a larger number of geese. Geese grazing caused losses of yield of on winter wheat causing economic consequences for the farmers. After privatisation, the attitude of farmers towards geese changed. Some guarded their crops, hunted geese or occasionally used poison against geese. Poison was also used more frequently against illegal sheep grazing. This practice is a major concern and affected a number of species. Hunting and farming were the main causes of disturbance during the winter. In Dobrogea, farming activity decreased from November to January. The hunting pressure was constant during the winter and larger at the weekend compared to working days.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available