Female barnacle geese Branta leucopsis were studied on their spring staging area on the coast of mid-Norway and 1,500 km further to the north on their breeding areas in the Arctic archipelago, Svalbard. The number of days between departure from their spring staging area and arrival on their breeding area ranged between 10 and 33 days. There was no significant relationship between the date of departure and the date of arrival for individual females (N = 51), indicating that early-leaving females were not necessarily the first to arrive at the breeding grounds. Late-arriving females were in better body condition upon arrival than early-arriving females (N = 25). These data imply that the barnacle geese breeding in Svalbard do not migrate directly from their traditional spring staging areas to their breeding areas, but spend a considerable amount of time, not only resting, but also feeding during their migration northwards. This result has important implications for the management of the barnacle goose population on Svalbard since areas other than their traditional spring staging grounds apparently determine the date of arrival at the breeding grounds, body reserves at arrival and subsequent reproduction.
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Vol. 2 • No. 3