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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 February 2008, 14:19 GMT
Study into geese migration 'fuel'
Light bellied brent geese (picture R Taylor-Jones)
The geese face dangers including hunting during their migrations
Wildfowl researchers are studying certain species of migratory geese to find out how they fuel their 3,000km flights between the UK and the Arctic.

Over the next year, the Top Goose project could see some wild geese from a wetlands centre in Llanelli, fitted with satellite transmitters.

Researchers will simultaneously track three different species to compare how much fuel they use on their journeys.

The project findings will feature on Radio 4 show World on the Move.

Scientists from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) are hoping to find out how the geese know how much food they need to eat to fuel their migrations.

The research will also examine what happens if they are hit by extreme weather or are blown off course.

The transmitters will be fitted to three barnacle geese, three Greenland white-fronted geese and three light-bellied brent geese.

They are among the five million birds that fly huge distances to spend the winter in the UK.

Light bellied brent goose (picture R Taylor-Jones)
They migrate from Ireland, to Iceland, over the 2700m high Greenland ice cap to Arctic tundra and back again
Among the hazards they face on the journey are illegal hunting and poor weather
The geese fatten up in Ireland and Iceland before tackling the most arduous stretch of their migration
They summer in the Arctic because of the relative absence of predators and competing species
It takes them three months to make the 3,000km journey

Light bellied brent geese are among those that can be seen at the WWT's National Wetland Centre Wales in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire throughout the winter months.

Dr Baz Hughes, head of species conservation at WWT said the information garnered from the study will help to shape and protect their feeding grounds in the UK.

"We will be able to simultaneously track three different species to compare how much the fuel they use on these journeys and see how they cope with hazards along the way, such as extreme weather conditions that may blow them off course," he said.

"Only then will we know how vital it is to maintain and protect their feeding grounds and help them adapt to a changing climate."

Updates on the geese migrations will appear on Radio 4's World On The Move: Great Animal Migrations.

This is the largest ever project undertaken by the BBC's natural history unit for radio.

The 40-programme weekly series, launched on 12 February, will enable listeners to follow some of the most extraordinary journeys on Earth, live as they happen.

World on the Move will next be broadcast on Tuesday, 19 February at 1100 GMT on Radio 4.

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