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© Vilda
Branta canadensis - Canada goose

French name:  Bernache du canada
Dutch name: Canadese gans
Family: Anatidae
Group: Birds
Origin: North America
Habitat: freshwater
Introduction:  pets and domestic animals
ISEIA Score : 12
Naturalization in Belgium
First observation in the wild: 1973
Invasion stage: spread
Spatial distribution: widespread
Reproduction in the wild: yes
Dispersion potential: high
Natural habitats: high
More on invasiveness: In Belgium, Canada goose populations have grown at a tremendous rate from 1990 onwards and are still increasing in the Southern part of the country. Geese most often breed along small mesotrophic to eutrophic ponds near open habitats with short grass. They are also increasingly found near wooded ponds and on the islands of large rivers. They are especially common in man-made habitats (parks, golf courses, urban and agricultural areas) but are also known to colonise natural wetlands and coastal areas (e.g. Ramsar zones). Canada goose is primarily a grazer and mainly feeds on grasses and aquatic plants. It takes also advantage of food provided by people in urban areas.
Distribution in Belgium
Established populations
absent from district
isolated populations (1-5 localities per district)
widespread (>5 localities per district)

Impacts on Species
Predation / Herbivory: high
Competition: medium
Disease transmission: likely
Genetic effects: medium
Impacts on Ecosystems
Nutrient cycling: high
Physical alteration: high
Natural successions: high
Food web alteration: likely
More on impacts: Canada geese often exhibit direct aggression to other bird species through strong territorial behaviour and, where high breeding concentrations occur, this may locally prevent smaller species from establishing territories. Large scale outcompetition of native birds is however unlikely. Geese have been observed to kill both adult and young moorhen Gallinula chloropus and coot Fulica atra. Hybridisation with greylag goose Anser anser is of concern in countries with native populations of the latter species. High geese densities damage wetland habitats by overgrazing, fouling and trampling, which leads to a drastic change of vegetation, reedbeds damage and soil erosion. Nutrient deposition by roosting geese can contribute to the eutrophication of water bodies, which in turn may stimulate algae and weed growth. They may also act as a non-amphibian environmental reservoir and as dispersion vectors for the causal agent of chytridiomycosis in Belgium. Because geese often forage in large groups, they quickly can inflict serious physical and economic damage to agricultural crops, residential lawns, golf courses, and ornamental plants and gardens (e.g. in moulting sites). They can also cause the deterioration of the microbiological quality of park areas and drinking and recreational water resources (fecal coliforms, waterborne protozoairs and fungal enteropathogens).
Data Source & References
Authors: Anselin Anny, Branquart Etienne, Devos Koen, Paquet Jean-Yves, Strubbe Diederik, Vangeluwe Didier, Weiserbs Anne
Published on:  19 April 2012
Last update:  19 April 2012
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