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Anser anser

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES ANSERIFORMES ANATIDAE

Scientific Name: Anser anser
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Greylag Goose

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
Justification:
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Countries:
Native:
Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Armenia (Armenia); Austria; Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Belarus; Belgium; Bhutan; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; China; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Malta; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Morocco; Myanmar; Nepal; Netherlands; Norway; Pakistan; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Russian Federation; Saudi Arabia; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain (Canary Is. - Vagrant, Spain (mainland)); Sri Lanka; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam
Introduced:
Argentina; Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
Vagrant:
Egypt; Gibraltar; Hong Kong; Lebanon; Libya; Liechtenstein; Oman; Thailand; Yemen
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is estimated to number c.1,000,000-1,100,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population sizes have been estimated at <c.100 breeding pairs and <c.50 wintering individuals in China and <c.10,000 breeding pairs in Russia (Brazil 2009).
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour This species is fully migratory although some populations in temperate regions are only sedentary (del Hoyo et al. 1992) or locally dispersive (Scott and Rose 1996), occasionally making irregular movements in very icy winters (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species breeds from May or April in loose colonies (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a), after which flocks gather to undertake moult migrations to favoured areas (with good feeding opportunities and access to safe roosting sites) (Kear 2005a) to undergo a flightless moulting period lasting c.1 month (Scott and Rose 1996). The species is highly gregarious (Madge and Burn 1988, Kear 2005a) outside of the breeding season (Madge and Burn 1988), with large concentrations forming during the post-breeding moult and before the autumn migration (e.g. flocks of up to 25,000 individuals) (Scott and Rose 1996). The species feeds diurnally, especially during the morning and evening, although non-breeding birds may also feed at night (Kear 2005a). It roosts at night and during the middle of the day on open water (Flint et al. 1984), and may fly to feeding areas more than 10 km away from roosting sites (Kear 2005a) (optimal distance 2-5 km away) (Vickery and Gill 1999). Habitat Breeding During the breeding season the species inhabits wetlands surrounded by fringing vegetation in open grassland (del Hoyo et al. 1992), sedge or heather moorland (Johnsgard 1978), arctic tundra, steppe or semi-desert from sea-level up to 2,300 m (Snow and Perrins 1998). It nests near streams, saltmarshes (Kear 2005a), river flood-plains, reedy marshes, grassy bogs, damp meadows, reed-lined freshwater lakes and estuaries (Johnsgard 1978) close to potential feeding sites such as meadows, grasslands, stubble fields and newly sown cereal fields (Kear 2005a). It requires isolated islands (Kear 2005a) in lakes (Johnsgard 1978) or on along the coast (Kear 2005a) out of reach of land predators for nesting (Kear 2005a). In the autumn (before migration) the species also frequents agricultural land (e.g. sugar-beet, maize and cereal fields) (Kear 2005a). Non-breeding In the winter the species inhabits lowland farmland in open country (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992), swamps (del Hoyo et al. 1992), lakes (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992), reservoirs (Madge and Burn 1988), coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and estuaries (Madge and Burn 1988). Diet The species is herbivorous, its diet consisting of grass (del Hoyo et al. 1992), the roots, shoots, leaves, stems, seedheads and fruits of other herbaceous marsh vegetation (Johnsgard 1978, del Hoyo et al. 1992), aquatic plants (Johnsgard 1978), and agricultural grain and potatoes (especially in the winter) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a shallow construction of plant matter (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998) placed among reedbeds, on the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1992), in or at the base of trees, under bushes or in sheltered hollows on isolated wooded islands on lakes or along coasts (Johnsgard 1978, Kear 2005a), as well as on rafts of vegetation in rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998). Although the species is only semi-colonial, nests may be concentrated within a small area (e.g. placed 11 m apart on small islands) (Johnsgard 1978). Management information On the Vejlerne nature reserve, Denmark, it was found that reedbeds left unharvested for 5-13 years supported the highest nesting densities of this species (Nyeland Kristiansen 1998). Low nesting densities were found in reedbeds in the first four years after reed cutting, and no nests were found in reedbeds cut in the year of study (shoot density may have been too low to provide adequate cover) or in reedbeds left uncut for sixteen years (reed stems may have been too dense) (Nyeland Kristiansen 1998).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened by considerable hunting pressures across much of its range (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992) and is susceptible to poisoning from lead shot ingestion (Mateo et al. 1998). It is also persecuted by farmers as it can cause considerable crop damage (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992). The destruction and degradation of wetland habitats due to drainage (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Grishanov 2006), conversion to agriculture (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992), petroleum pollution, peat-extraction, changing wetland management practices (e.g. decreased grazing and mowing in meadows leading to scrub over-growth) and the burning and mowing of reeds is also a threat, especially in breeding areas (Grishanov 2006). The species is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Anser anser. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 29 July 2014.
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