Photo impressions of field work on the FRAGILE project

A personal photo report from Maarten Loonen
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In Haren, a student is learning to work with captive geese and developing an experimental protokol, to test diet choice and digestion in different sized goslings. Later this year, she will do similar things on Spitsbergen.

Suzanne Lubbe with her barnacle goose goslings

Comparing feeding in different-sized geese

Goose diets of young and adults differ. This is surprising, because both sizes graze on the same vegetation as they forage independent in a family unit. We want to study differences in diet and digestion and will be using captive geese.

At the Zoological Laboratory of the University of Groningen, we made a start with this research, to practice the raising of the young and the experimental protocol. A student, Suzanne van der Lubbe, is doing this research as a part of her study biology.

In the Netherlands, the geese are born one month earlier than on Spitsbergen. The eggs originate from the captive flock in Haren. Right after hatching, Suzanne is taking care of the goslings. The goslings are imprinted on her. They think, she is their parent, and they follow her everywhere.

While she let them graze, she collects droppings and grass samples. These are analysed to determine digestive efficiency. Now the goslings graze on a lawn. Next month she will do a similar experiment on Spitsbergen, where diet selection can be studied on natural vegetation.

The goslings are imprinted on Suzanne and follow her everywhere.
Barnacle goose goslings Barnacle Geese, adults and goslings kept in Haren

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