The taxonomy of the white-cheeked geese (Branta canadensis, B.maxima, B.lawrensis, B.hutchinsii, B.leucopareia and B.minima) has perhaps been more poorly understood than that of any other closely related group of birds in North America. No two previous treatments of their classification have agreed. The findings presented here virtually supersede all accepted dogma regarding their taxonomy and biogeography of 'Canada geese'. The net result is that research and management must be orientated in the future in relation to this new framework of understanding of continental populations. The challenges are now apparent and the field operations requisite in the North to solve the many unknowns that still exist are formidable. The unfolding of knowledge gained from future multidisciplinary approaches to the study of these geese should also provide unparalleled insights into evolutionary processes.
The present study reflects the author's research on white-cheeked geese over 45 years and represents field and laboratory studies of the taxonomy of this group over a 27 year period. It is backed by a skin and skeleton collection of over 1,800 specimens in the Illinois Natural History Survey.