What is it about resident Canada goose populations that have enabled them to increase so rapidly? Why have they been so successful? As a group, Canada geese are long-lived, with relatively high survival rates and low reproductive rates. However, the larger-bodied subspecies (which make up residents) have the highest reproductive rates and highest survival rates. In comparison to migrant Canada geese, residents begin nesting at a younger age, have larger clutches, and enjoy relatively stable and high reproductive success (nest success and gosling survival).
Unlike their counterparts, which nest in the arctic and subarctic and whose annual production is often boom or bust due to weather conditions, resident Canada geese nest in temperate environments where weather and breeding habitat conditions are relatively stable. In addition, breeding seasons in temperate areas are prolonged, which provides opportunities for renesting in the event of nest failure. Resident Canada geese also do not face the energetic constraints associated with long-distance migration, and live in essentially predator-free environments, which likely enhances survival. Further, portions of resident populations that inhabit urban settings are afforded additional protection through the absence of waterfowl hunting in these areas.
In short, human-induced changes to the landscape have essentially provided resident Canada goose populations with ideal living conditions.
For a goose to migrate, it must be taught the flight path by its parents. Therefore, all following generations of nonmigratory Canada geese will also be nonmigratory, or resident geese, which will stay year-round in the vicinity where they were born.
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