I am a PhD-student on the Netherlands Institute for Ecology (NIOO) in Wageningen, where I started in November 2014.
For my PhD-research I study the migration of Arctic-breeding Barnacle geese, breeding in Russia and wintering in the Netherlands. For these long-distance migrants, there exists a trade-off between arrival time (better early than late) on the breeding grounds and body condition on arrival (the fatter the better) for their reproductive success. In order to achieve a balance in this, the geese have to optimize their migration strategy to meet both needs and to ensure a high fitness. During the last decades, a dichotomy in migration strategies has arisen, with strategies differing in both the departure from the Netherlands and the number of stop-over sites on their migration routes. The main aim of my project is to uncover the carry-over effects of these different migration strategies on the reproductive success of the geese, specifically by looking on the effect different migration strategies on goose arrival time and body condition on arrival.
During migration, arctic-breeding geese are known to follow a so-called ‘wave’ of consecutive spring grass growth peaks, thereby increasing their food intake on stop-over sites during migration. How geese make use of these food peaks, and how they use this to optimize their migration, is a topic I would like to further explore during this course.