Branta bernicla 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Anseriformes Anatidae

Scientific Name: Branta bernicla (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Brent Goose, Brant, Brant Goose
French Bernache cravant
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Taxonomic Notes: Branta bernicla (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was putatively split into B. bernicla, B. hrota and B. nigricans by Shields (1990) but this treatment is not followed by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-31
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Burfield, I., Ieronymidou, C., Pople, R., Wheatley, H. & Wright, L
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence 10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern in Europe.

The species occurs in the EU27 only in winter, however it is considered Least Concern there based on available winter population data.

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Belgium; Czech Republic; Denmark; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Germany; Greenland; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Latvia; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation (European Russia); Svalbard and Jan Mayen; United Kingdom
Austria; Belarus; Bulgaria; Croatia; Greece; Luxembourg; Portugal; Slovakia; Spain (Canary Is.); Switzerland; Turkey
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:648000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:22679946-1

Population [top]

Population:The European population is estimated at 1,500-1,800 pairs, which equates to 3,000-3,600 mature individuals. The species occurs in the EU27 only in winter and the minimum population is estimated at 307,000-329,000 individuals, which equates to 205,000-219,000 mature individuals. For details of national estimates, see the Supplementary Material.

Trend Justification:  In Europe the population size trend is unknown. In the EU27 in winter the population size is estimated to be fluctuating. For details of national estimates, see attached PDF.
For further information about this species, see 22679946_branta_bernicla.pdf.
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Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:3000-3600,3300Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species breeds in coastal Arctic tundra (Carboneras et al. 2014) in or close to wet coastal meadows with abundant grassy vegetation (Kear 2005) and on tundra-covered flats with tidal streams (only just above the high tide line). In some parts of its range it shows a preference for nesting on small grassy islands (Johnsgard 1978) in tundra lakes and rivers. High Arctic nesters may also breed widely dispersed over icy tundra, well-away from water (Kear 2005). Outside of the breeding season the species becomes predominantly coastal, inhabiting estuaries, sandy shores (Carboneras et al. 2014), tidal mudlflats (Madge and Burn 1988), coastal saltmarshes, and shallow muddy bays (Kear 2005). In recent years the species has taken to grazing on coastal cultivated grasslands (Madge and Burn 1988) and winter cereal fields (Scott and Rose 1996), but rarely occurs on freshwater wetlands except on passage. It arrives on the breeding grounds in early June where it may breed in small, loose colonies (Madge and Burn 1988) or dispersed in single pairs (Snow and Perrins 1998). The nest is a shallow depression on the ground. Although the species often nests close to water (Carboneras et al. 2014) typically within a few hundred metres of the tideline (Snow and Perrins 1998), high Arctic nesters may breed on icy tundra well away from water (Kear 2005). Clutch size is typically three to five eggs. The species is mainly herbivorous although it may take animal matter. In its breeding habitat the diet of the species generally consists of grasses, mosses, lichens and aquatic plants (Carboneras et al. 2014), although the young may also take insects and aquatic invertebrates (Johnsgard 1978). Breeding success is highly dependent on the lemming cycle. Effectively only once every three years (the lemming peak years) is breeding success relatively high. Outside of the breeding season the species predominantly takes marine algae, seaweeds and other aquatic plants linked with salt or brackish water (Carboneras et al. 2014). This species is fully migratory, the main routes of migration being along Arctic coastlines (Snow and Perrins 1998).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):10.9
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened by hunting (Kear 2005) which has caused severe declines in the past, although hunting bans have allowed it to begin to recover (Carboneras et al. 2014). It is susceptible to disturbance from vehicles in the U.K. (Burton et al. 2002) (although it is relatively tolerant of human disturbance, e.g. walkers, compared to other species) (Vickery and Gill 1999, Burton et al. 2002). In its winter range the species may be persecuted by farmers as in recent years it has increasingly taken to grazing on cultivated grasslands and winter cereal fields near the coast (Scott and Rose 1996). The species may also be threatened in the future by reductions in abundance of sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca) and eelgrasses (Zostera) (Clausen et al. 2012). It can use alternative feeding sources as demonstrated following the collapse of eelgrasses in the Netherlands (1930-1940), but these need to be highly nutritious and diverse. It has been shown that nest success is dependent on fat reserves that have been acquired in the staging areas (Ebbinge and Spaans 1995). The nesting success of breeding pairs in Svalbard is greatly reduced as a result of Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) predation (Madsen et al. 1992), and the species is susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006). Inbreeding depression has also been identified as a threat to current population growth (Harrison et al. 2011).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix II. EU Birds Directive Annex II. In England and the Netherlands alternative feeding sites have been established to prevent conflict with agriculture. Dutch farmers who suffer damage from geese are paid compensation and in the German Wadden Sea farmers are subsidized to accept foraging geese (Tucker and Heath 1994).

Conservation Actions Proposed
International management plan including policies on crop damage and shooting should be agreed upon (Tucker and Heath 1994). An asssessment of methods of predator control in Svalbard should be undertaken. Alternative feeding sites should continue to be provided.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Branta bernicla. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22679946A59954837. . Downloaded on 16 August 2018.
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