Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?It is a basic requirement in conservation science to understand animal behavior and migration energetics. Studying activity budgets is an efficient way to do it. Members of one of the most numerous and urban adapted group, family Anatidae, travel >1500km; from their Icelandic breeding grounds to Scotland (UK) to escape the cold arctic winter. Being selective about habits and habitats thus occupying unique niches, these species are indicators of ecosystem health.
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?The time spent in various diurnal activities by four species - Mute swan (Res.), Whooper swan (Migr.), Greylag goose (Res.) and Pink-footed goose (Migr.) were comparatively studied at four locations in the Lothian region over a period of two months (February-March). A random individual was observed using continuous focal sampling method; each focal lasted 8 minutes with 2 minute settling time. The individual was observed for 8 types of diurnal activities: drinking, foraging, interacting, preening, resting, swimming, vigilant and walking or flying. Data analysis was done by averaging ~15000 focal timecodes over 2 months for each species. The resultant dataset ~45 average counts (N) concisely represented activity throughout the entire day. These averages were processed in Minitab for normality, 2-sample t-test, Mann-Whitney Wilcoxon test and Scatterplot analysis.
Results: What are your most important results?Normality tests with 95% confidence interval returned a p-value of >0.4 for migrant species as their feeding pattern as constant throughout the study, residents showed decreasing trend with p = 0.153. Migrants spent about 7% more time feeding than resident species. The migrants were observed to spend more time resting during afternoon hours (1330-1630 GMT), with Pink-footed geese (+23%) and Whooper swans (+31%) in comparison to resident Greylag geese and Mute Swans.
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?The amount of time spent on feeding dropped for all four species however the difference was more prominent in case of geese. Migrant species had flat trendlines compared to that of residents. Greylag geese showed a 4% decrease in foraging whereas Pink-footed geese showed a flat progression with <0.5% decrease. Mute swans showed approximately 2.5% decrease compared to just 1% in whooper swans. Results are consistent to migrants’ greater energy demands for migration.