Predation danger can explain changes in timing of migration: the case of the Barnacle goose

R.M. Jonker, G. Eichhorn, F. van Langevelde, S. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding stopover decisions of long-distance migratory birds is crucial for conservation and management of these species along their migratory flyway. Recently, an increasing number of Barnacle geese breeding in the Russian Arctic have delayed their departure from their wintering site in the Netherlands by approximately one month and have reduced their staging duration at stopover sites in the Baltic accordingly. Consequently, this extended stay increases agricultural damage in the Netherlands. Using a dynamic state variable approach we explored three hypotheses about the underlying causes of these changes in migratory behavior, possibly related to changes in (i) onset of spring, (ii) potential intake rates and (iii) predation danger at wintering and stopover sites. Our simulations showed that the observed advance in onset of spring contradicts the observed delay of departure, whereas both increased predation danger and decreased intake rates in the Baltic can explain the delay. Decreased intake rates are expected as a result of increased competition for food in the growing Barnacle goose population. However, the effect of predation danger in the model was particularly strong, and we hypothesize that Barnacle geese avoid Baltic stopover sites as a response to the rapidly increasing number of avian predators in the area. Therefore, danger should be considered as an important factor influencing Barnacle goose migratory behavior, and receive more attention in empirical studies
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11369
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • optimal avian migration
  • branta-leucopsis
  • heart-rate
  • oxygen-consumption
  • spring migration
  • range expansion
  • bird migration
  • climate-change
  • stopover site
  • trade-off


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