Balancing ecosystem function, services and disservices resulting from expanding goose populations

Ralph Buij*, Theodorus C.P. Melman, Maarten J.J.E. Loonen, Anthony D. Fox

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


As goose populations increase in abundance, their influence on ecological processes is increasing. We review the evidence for key ecological functions of wild goose populations in Eurasia and North America, including aquatic invertebrate and plant propagule transport, nutrient deposition in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the influence of goose populations on vegetation biomass, carbon storage and methane emission, species diversity and disease transmission. To estimate the implications of their growing abundance for humans, we explore how these functions contribute to the provision of ecosystem services and disservices. We assess the weight, extent and trends among such impacts, as well as the balance of their value to society. We examine key unresolved issues to enable a more balanced assessment of the economic costs or benefits of migratory geese along their flyways, including the spatial and temporal variation in services and their contrasting value to different user groups. Many ecological functions of geese are concluded to provide neither services nor disservices and, ecosystem disservices currently appear to outweigh services, although this varies between regions. We consider an improved quantification of ecosystem services and disservices, and how these vary along population flyways with respect to variation in valuing certain cultural services, and under different management scenarios aimed at reducing their disservices, essential for a more balanced management of goose populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-318
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Ecosystem functions
  • Ecosystem services
  • Goose overabundance
  • Herbivores
  • Species interactions


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