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Report of the 18th Conference of Goose Specialist Group at Klaipeda University

The 18th Conference of Goose Specialist Group was held on 27-30 March 2018 at Klaipeda University, Lithuania. It was organized by Klaipeda University, on behalf of the Baltic Valley Association and Goose Specialist Group, the conference was a significant event, bringing together 102 participants from 22 countries. The programme, a book of abstracts and conference photos can be viewed on http://apc.ku.lt/geese/

The conference revolved around topics related to wild geese populations, which varied from the assessment of current state of goose populations and their ecology to the impact of global change and other anthropogenic activities. The keynote speakers Ray T. Alisaukas (Canada) with “Status of the North American Arctic Goose Populations” and Anthony David Fox (Denmark) with “Status and abundance of Eurasian goose populations: winners and losers” inspired all the participants. Barwolt S. Ebbinge presented history of all 18 conferences of Goose Specialist Group.

Scientific committee members Andrea Kölzsch (Germany), Bart Nolet and Thomas Lameris (the Netherlands), Modestas Ružauskas (Lithuania) competently reviewed abstracts, received before the event, and arranged a programme. It included five sessions: a) Population dynamics and management; b) Reproduction ecology and species interactions; c) Eco-physiology and diseases; d) Migration and stopover ecology; e) Impact of global change and anthropogenic activities. In these conference sessions, waterfowl ornithologists from Europe, Asia, and America shared their knowledge in 48 oral presentations and 26 posters.

There were three workshops which involved participants to active discussions. The first conference day was finished with presentations and discussions on “Interaction of geese and wind farms” (moderated by Eileen Rees and Anna Harrison). The second workshop was designated to better understanding of nowadays’ tracking methods (How to answer research questions with tracking devices?“ (moderated by Andrea Kölzsch and Thomas Lameris). The closing workshop discussed the “Coordination of goose monitoring in Europe” (moderated by Gitte Høj Jensen). The speakers and all participants were enlighten about needed monitoring efforts to estimate geese populations in Europe.

The field trip to the Nemunas River floodplains impressed everyone as it is one of the most important staging area for geese and other waterfowl on their migration route. Participants had a possibility to visit large flooded areas with thousands of geese and Bird Ringing station in Ventės Ragas.

Sponsorship made this conference to be cosy. All participants kindly thank to conference sponsors: Klaipėda University, Norwegian Environment Agency, 4energia, Institute for Wetlands and Waterbird Research, Ecotone,   Kowa, Focus Nordic, Raseiniu Žuvis, Ornitela, Municipality of Šilutė, Tadas Ivanauskas Zoological Museum, and Latvijas Tilti. Partners of the event: Lithuanian ornithological society, Nemunas delta regional park and IUCN.

We would like to thank our sponsors Focus Nordic for the best presentation awards and prizes (in total two Kowa scopes and one Focus Nordic binocular). The best student oral presentation award was presented for Rose Delacroix from University of Aarhus (Denmark). The best poster presentation award was presented for a master student of Klaipeda University Karolina Kaziukonytė on “Using remote sensing methods for evaluation of changes in goose feeding areas in Nemunas delta”. The best overall oral presentation was given by Olga Pokrovskaya (Marine Research Centre of Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia). These awards were very important to early career scientists and their further research.

All participants gained much knowledge during the sessions, workshops and informal communication. Moreover, as an essential part of the effective goose protection is knowledge sharing and discussions, the organizers of the conference aimed to give friendly and relaxed working atmosphere which enabled goose specialists of both very similar and different opinions to be together and discuss issues in a way which is not possible if they never meet. The 18th conference of Goose Specialist Group strengthened and established new cooperation among scientists and practitioners from different countries. We all believe that this and further conferences provide new perspectives and solutions to challenges in protection and conservation of goose populations.

Let’s be inspired by our common passion to explore the world of waterfowl.

The next conference will be held in 2020 in Netherlands.

Report by Rasa Morkune (Klaipeda University, Lithuania)