Along the western coast of the Alaska, vast river systems empty into the Bering Sea. The mouth of these rivers is a large flat area larger than most states in the lower 48. This is the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta.
Coastal wetlands have a mix of fresh and saltwater. Only salt tolerant plant species can grow in these wetlands.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of geese come to the delta to lay their eggs and raise their babies.
Brant on Tundra
Pacific Black Brant return to the YK Delta each summer to raise their babies and fatten up for the fall trip south.
The grazing of geese changes the types of plants that grow here. Scientists are trying to describe the exact impact of the geese by studying their grazing and how this benefits some plants more than others.
What if these geese moved north?
What would happen to the plants if the Geese did not return to the Y-K Delta each summer? Would the willows take over and compete for space with the grasses and sedges?
Pacific Black Brant on Nest
Pacific Black Brant are one of four common goose species in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta. The other species include the Emperor Goose, the White Fronted Goose, and the Cackling Goose.
Goslings eat young sedge shoots from the plant called Carex subspathacea or Hoppner's Sedge.
Young tender shoots of sedge are good food for goslings.
Growing is hard work and requires frequent naps.
The goslings eat grass and sleep all summer.
Geese such as the Pacific Black Brant come to the delta becuase it has a large amount nutrient rich grass and sedge plants.
There is small willow plant that grow among these sedges and grasses called Salix Obvilata.