Variation in elevation and sward height facilitate coexistence of goose species through allometric responses in wetlands

Yong Zhang, Herbert H.T. Prins, Lei Cao*, Meijuan Zhao, Fred de Boer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Allometric scaling law predicts that herbivores respond differently to the availability of resources, mediated by body size. However, studies of allometric responses have often focused on animals with a relatively large difference in body size. Here, using a correlative field study, habitat use by two herbivorous species, the Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) and the Greater White-fronted Goose (A. albifrons), with a relatively small difference in body size was investigated during the wintering period. Both a generalized linear mixed model and a mixed logistic regression model showed that both species selected lower lying areas that were recently exposed, and, as expected, the smaller Greater White-fronted Goose showed a stronger selection of foraging habitat than the larger Bean Goose. Sward height also influenced habitat selection by both species, and the smaller species selected shorter swards than the larger species. In terms of forage quality, both models failed to detect a significant effect of nitrogen content on goose habitat selection. A logistic regression model showed that structural heterogeneity of the sward negatively correlated with the patch selection of the smaller species, but for the larger species such a correlation was not found. In agreement with our hypotheses, our results provide some preliminary indication that coexistence of the two goose species studied here might be mediated by an allometric response even if the difference in body size is relatively small.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-44
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Anser albifrons
  • Anser fabalis
  • Bean Goose
  • body size
  • forage quality
  • forage quantity
  • grassland
  • Greater White-fronted Goose
  • habitat selection
  • heterogeneity

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