Risque de prédation, hétérogénéité de l'habitat et fidélité au site de reproduction : le cas de la Grande Oie des neiges dans le Haut-Arctique

Authors: Lecomte, Nicolas
Advisor: Gauthier, Gilles
Abstract: The main objective of this thesis is to examine factors linking predator-prey relationships, breeding strategies and spatial structure inside colonies of greater snow geese (Chen caerulescens atlantica). We collected data from 2002 to 2005 and used some data collected in previous years at Bylot Island (Nunavut, Canada). We first explored how predation, the main determinant of nesting success, was affected by habitat heterogeneity. We showed that wetlands could provide refuges for geese because polygon-patterned grounds decrease travel speed and success of their main predator, the arctic fox (Alopex lagopus). The quality of these refuges varied according to the lemming cycle (the main prey of foxes) with foxes feeding on goose eggs during years of low lemming abundance. Our study also demonstrated that water availability is a major determinant of goose nesting success. First, geese nesting in mesic tundra experienced higher predation risks than those nesting in wetlands due to limited availability of water. Second, by experimentally manipulating water availability, we recorded a 20% increase of nesting success relatively to control nests. Third, we showed a positive relationship between rainfall abundance and nesting success. Nests were less exposed to predators because females were able to reach nearby water holes resulting from recent rainfall accumulation. We found a low fidelity to a specific nesting site, which could result from variable patterns of spring snow-melt and the limited consequences of changing sites. Nonetheless, geese showed fidelity towards habitat type yet geese nest preferentially in wetlands where they experienced lower predation risks. Finally, we explored how dispersal strategies could determine patterns of population genetic structure. We detected a fine-scale genetic structure (few km) among rearing sites but not among nesting sites inside the colony. To conclude, this thesis provides a framework to understand population dynamic and distribution by using multiple-scale analyses of mechanisms driving predator-prey relationships.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2007
Open Access Date: 13 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/19644
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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