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Field methods to assess pectoral muscle mass in moulting geese

Nyeland, Jens, Fox, Anthony D., Kahlert, Johnny, Therkildsen, Ole R.
Wildlife biology 2003 v.9 no.2 pp. 155-159
Anser anser, Branta canadensis, binoculars, chest, field methods, geese, molting, muscles, prediction, telescopes
In this paper, we report two new simple field methods to assess changes in pectoral muscle mass in live moulting geese. In the first method, transverse chest profiles of Canada geese Branta canadensis and greylag geese Anser anser were recorded using soldering wire. This standard measure of the chest angle showed a highly significant relationship with actual pectoral muscle mass. Chest angle measures showed a highly significant polynomial correlation with an index of moult stage, i.e. length of the ninth primary (p9). This indicated an initial slight decline in pectoral muscle mass as p9 length increased, followed by an increase in muscle mass in preparation for regaining the ability to fly. In the second method, visual pectoral profile scores from 0 (thin pectoral muscles concave) to 3 (convex bulky) recorded at distances using telescope or binoculars also proved to be useful as a field measure of pectoral muscle mass in moulting geese. Hence, the first method provides a non-consumptive means of predicting pectoral muscle mass in moulting geese without the need to dissect birds, and the second method enables field prediction of muscle mass in moulting geese without resort to capture of birds.