Neckband loss and its effect on apparent survival estimates in Greylag Geese (Anser anser): variation with season, sex and age

K.H.T. Schreven*, Berend Voslamber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Mark-recapture studies enable us to estimate population parameters such as survival, if marks do not impact survival and if marks are not lost. Mark loss can result from external wear and damage, but also behavioural factors may be important and could explain differences between seasons or sexes. We studied Greylag Geese (Anser anser) in eastern Netherlands, ringed with neckbands, leg bands and metal rings (912 geese), observed weekly during 1997–2019 (131,625 observations). Given the double marking and high annual resighting probabilities (neckbands: 0.974, leg rings: 0.639), we quantified neckband loss and the effect of neckbands on apparent survival, using multistate mark-recapture models. Annual neckband loss was 0.038, was higher in males (0.056) than females (0.021) and increased with years since marking, up to 0.098 for males more than 8 years after marking. Neckband loss tended to be higher during December–May than June–November, with most losses occurring in March–April. Both the higher loss in males and the peak in spring in both sexes could result from intraspecific fighting (pulling each other’s neck and neckband). Survival was underestimated in Cormack-Jolly-Seber models that did not account for neckband loss, by up to 0.096 for adult males 6–7 years after marking. Thus, ignoring neckband loss may give erroneous survival differences between sexes and seasons, and overestimate the effect of ageing on survival (i.e. senescence). We did not detect an effect of neckbands on mortality, but statistical power for this test was limited. Neckband loss, although lower nowadays than in studies of decades ago, still impacts survival estimates and should be considered in mark-recapture studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1024
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Ornithology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Ageing
  • multistate models
  • neck collar
  • retention
  • ring loss
  • Senescence


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