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International Journal of Zoology
Volume 2011, Article ID 323847, 10 pages
Research Article

Tracking the Autumn Migration of the Bar-Headed Goose (Anser indicus) with Satellite Telemetry and Relationship to Environmental Conditions

1Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
2Computer Network Information Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
3US Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Vallejo, CA 94592, USA
4Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
5US Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
6US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, Juneau, AK 99801, USA
7State Forestry Administration, Qinghai Lake National Nature Reserve, Xining 810000, China
8EMPRES Animal Health, Wildlife Health & Ecology Unit, Animal Production and Health Division, Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 00153 Rome, Italy

Received 11 April 2011; Accepted 27 July 2011

Academic Editor: Stephen Reid

Copyright © 2011 Yaonan Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The autumn migration routes of bar-headed geese captured before the 2008 breeding season at Qinghai Lake, China, were documented using satellite tracking data. To assess how the migration strategies of bar-headed geese are influenced by environmental conditions, the relationship between migratory routes, temperatures, and vegetation coverage at stopovers sites estimated with the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were analyzed. Our results showed that there were four typical migration routes in autumn with variation in timing among individuals in start and end times and in total migration and stopover duration. The observed variation may be related to habitat type and other environmental conditions along the routes. On average, these birds traveled about 1300 to 1500 km, refueled at three to six stopover sites and migrated for 73 to 83 days. The majority of the habitat types at stopover sites were lake, marsh, and shoal wetlands, with use of some mountainous regions, and farmland areas.