Social Information use by Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis, an Experiment Revisited

R.H.J.M. Kurvers, K. Straates, R.C. Ydenberg, S.E. van Wieren, P.S. Swierstra, H.H.T. Prins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Reproducing research results is one of the cornerstones of science. However, few biological findings are actually replicated. Here, we repeat a study done more than 35 years ago on social information use in Barnacle Geese. In the original study, models of Barnacle Geese were used to measure how they attracted wild Barnacle Geese (Drent & Swierstra 1977). Models were placed in different locations in a pasture and these models attracted many wild Barnacle Geese, providing strong evidence for the use of social information. 37 years later we repeated this experiment, using the same models, the same area and a similar research protocol. Despite an abundance of wild Barnacle Geese in the area frequently flying over the models, the models did not elicit a landing response. In line with the original study, we scored vigilance rates and abundance of geese. Comparing these data to previous records we found that total abundance increased but that vigilance rates were lower than previously recorded. The decreased vigilance suggests that the landscape has become safer or that competition between geese has intensified; both could explain a reduced use of social information. More generally, our study shows the importance of repeating experiments in ecology, especially in a rapidly changing world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-180
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • public information
  • brent geese
  • goose flocks
  • group-size
  • food quality
  • bernicla
  • personality
  • vigilance
  • selection
  • patch


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