The Timing of Arrival of Geese on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
Essential Question: What will happen if the plants that geese eat start growing earlier each year as the climate warms?
Phenomenon: Geese shape the landscape of coastal Alaska by grazing and fertilizing the sedges and grasses that can outcompete other plants when grazed upon.
Watch this video and complete the Goose Unit Tracker for Lesson 1. You will complete this Unit tracker for each upcoming lesson that you complete. Try your best to answer the essential question and connect it to the unit phenomenon to explain how geese change the landscape of coastal Alaska.
- What will happen if the plants that geese eat start growing earlier each year as the climate warms?
- What will happen if the geese go somewhere else for food?
- How do geese shape the land?
Each year, millions of geese migrate to the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta to feed on the rich grasses and food that grow in the coastal marshes. The four most common species in this habitat are Pacific Black Brant, Greater White-fronted Geese, Emperor Geese and Cackling Geese. Scientific data shows that the timing of nesting has evolved to match the dates when plants have the most nutritional value. Further data shows that this date is happening earlier and earlier as the climate warms.
The goose project is a 5 year study to help research these questions. The overall research objective is to quantify how an advancing growing season and changes in the timing of vegetation-goose interactions alter the magnitudes and patterns of Carbon and Nitrogen cycling in the Y-K Delta. Scientist hope to learn more about how geese affect the ecology of coastal marshes in Western Alaska.