Mikhail Grishchenko studies how migration of geese is affected by the loss of stop-over sites due land use change in Russia, using a combination of remote sensing and field work.
Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 there was a severe socio-economic impact on land use practices in Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia.
Agriculture faced a dramatic decline of subsidies which led to outmigration of the rural population and wide-spread abandonment of agricultural lands. It appears that these processes have proceeded rapidly, particularly across areas of European Russia that are situated above 50N latitude. Migrating Greater White-fronted geese (Anser albifrons) use in these vast areas as stop-over sites on their way from wintering grounds in Western Europe to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. This network of suitable habitat enables this migration by providing geese with opportunities to recover from long-haul flights. Since the spatial distribution of stop-over sites in European Russia is poorly understood, an automatic classifier will be designed to execute suitability habitat modelling based on pre-defined criteria. This will result in a network of potential stop-over sites derived for each 5-year period in 1983 – 2012. For the same time period land cover changes will be estimated using disaggregation analysis of GIMMS dataset and MODIS satellite imagery. After potential stop-over sites and changes in land cover are identified, analysis of site utilisation and site dynamics will be conducted. Ring recoveries and results of hunters’ surveys will be used to validate stop-over sites. It is expected that migrating geese are likely to skip the stop-over sites that have been subject to changes in land use in recent 20 years. Potential outcomes of this process for the migration strategy of geese will be discussed.