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Skipping the layover, Arctic geese opt for a direct flight

Cara J

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Rather than using their historical migratory stopovers, Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis) have begun making nonstop journeys from the Netherlands to their Arctic breeding grounds. Scientists say the reason is climate change. In a study published in Current Biology, researchers tracked female barnacle geese traveling in the spring from the North Sea coast where they winter to the Russian Arctic where they nest. The birds had been known to use stopover sites along the Baltic and Barents seas along their migration journey. But with a warming climate, researchers were curious about how their journeys may be impacted. “The climate is warming so rapidly in the Arctic, much more rapidly than anywhere else in the world,” said Bart Nolet, a professor at the University of Amsterdam and a researcher at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology who was senior author of the study. “This means the birds face difficulty in tracking those changes.” Nolet and his colleagues already noted anecdotally that the birds stopped using a particular stopover site in the Baltic region in the past 20 to 25 years. That showed them that the birds are capable of changing their migrating behavior. Nolet and his colleagues used GPS tracking, remote sensing, stable [...]

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