An interesting novelty
A new interesting scientific article, recently published in the journal "Current biology" entitled "Rapid formation of new migration route and breeding area by Arctic geese", by the Authors Jesper Madsen, Kees HT Schreven, Gitte H. Jensen, Fred A. Johnson, Leif Nilsson, Bart A. Nolet, Jorma Pessa, demonstrates once again how much animals (in this specific case geese) know how to adapt to environmental changes. This study confirms some negative news, that is, how the arctic environments are changing rapidly, but also returns us positive news by showing us how this population of pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus) has quickly found a new place to reproduce.
Many animals that breed in the Arctic are at risk of local extinction due to habitat loss. Migratory species face additional increasing anthropogenic pressures along their migration routes such as droughts, barrier creation and agricultural overexploitation. These species can only resist if they adapt their migrations, reproduction times and nesting area. This article documents the very rapid formation (10 years) of a new migratory route and disjointed breeding population of the pink-footed goose at Novaya Zemlya, Russia, nearly 1.000 km from its original breeding grounds on Svalbard (Norway). The population grew to 3.000-4.000 birds, due to inherent growth and continued immigration from the original route. The colonization was made possible by the recent warming on Novaya Zemlya which created new places suitable for their nesting. This social behavior of geese, resulting in cultural transmission of migratory behavior between conspecifics and mixed-species flocks, is key to this rapid development and serves as a mechanism that may enable ecological rescue in a rapidly changing world.
All this does not mean that global warming is a false problem, at all, but it comforts us in some way for the future by suggesting that there are possibilities for adaptation for species in difficulty. Furthermore, it helps us to better understand the dynamics of some populations that may sometimes seem to be decreasing, but are actually changing their range. An analogous case is that of the European populations of the ruff (Calidris pugnax) which, although not demonstrated in such a precise way, has modified the reproductive areas by moving further east in eastern Siberia and abandoning the nesting areas in Europe and western Russia. (Federcaccia Wildlife and Agro-Environmental Studies and Research Office)
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