Inter- and intra-specific interactions are potentially important factors influencing the distribution of populations. Aerial survey data, collected during range-wide breeding population surveys for Eastern Prairie Population (EPP) Canada Geese (Branta canadensis interior), 1987–2008, were evaluated to assess factors influencing their nesting distribution. Specifically, associations between nesting Lesser Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) and EPP Canada Geese were quantified; and changes in the spatial distribution of EPP Canada Geese were identified. Mixed-effects Poisson regression models of EPP Canada Goose nest counts were evaluated within a cross-validation framework. The total count of EPP Canada Goose nests varied moderately among years between 1987 and 2008 with no long-term trend; however, the total count of nesting Lesser Snow Geese generally increased. Three models containing factors related to previous EPP Canada Goose nest density (representing recruitment), distance to Hudson Bay (representing brood-habitat), nesting habitat type, and Lesser Snow Goose nest density (inter-specific associations) were the most accurate, improving prediction accuracy by 45% when compared to intercept-only models. EPP Canada Goose nest density varied by habitat type, was negatively associated with distance to coastal brood-rearing areas, and suggested density-dependent intra-specific effects on recruitment. However, a non-linear relationship between Lesser Snow and EPP Canada Goose nest density suggests that as nesting Lesser Snow Geese increase, EPP Canada Geese locally decline and subsequently the spatial distribution of EPP Canada Geese on western Hudson Bay has changed.
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Vol. 36 • No. 1