Archived 2015 topics: Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus) – uplist from Least Concern to Near Threatened?

Armenian Gull Larus armenicus breeds from the Caucasus through Armenia to W Turkey and NW Iran, and winters south to the E Mediterranean, N Red Sea and N Persian Gulf (Burger et al. 2015). It is currently listed as Least Concern, because when last assessed it was not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under any of the IUCN Red List criteria.

Globally, a moderately large range in both the breeding season (c. 90,000 km2) and in winter (c. 300,000 km2), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criteria (B and D2). Its population size is also moderately large (with 38,000–58,000 mature individuals in Europe alone; BirdLife International 2015), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criteria (C and D1). Therefore, the only potentially relevant criterion is A, which relates to reductions in population size. Until recently, the population was thought to be declining slowly, but not sufficiently rapidly to approach the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A (at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations, whichever is longer).

New data collated from across Europe for the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015) indicate that the species is declining moderately rapidly in Turkey, which holds c. 50% of the European breeding population. Given its relatively small European breeding range and small number of breeding locations, the species is now classified as Near Threatened at European level (BirdLife International 2015).

Despite apparent stability in Armenia, no recent information is available about the species’ breeding population size or trends in Georgia or Iran. In the early 1970s, aerial surveys of Lake Urumiyeh (NW Iran) indicated a total breeding population of 4,000–5,000 pairs (Scott 2007). It is possible that the apparent decline in Turkey reflects the relocation of birds to other colonies, but in the absence of any data to corroborate this, a precautionary approach may be to consider listing it as globally Near Threatened.

Comments on this proposal are welcome, along with any data regarding the recent size and trend of its breeding population in Iran and Georgia, along with any additional information about the threats currently affecting this species across its range.

References

BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/euroredlist

Burger, J., Gochfeld, M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2015). Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2015). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. www.hbw.com

Scott, D. A. (2007). A review of the status of the breeding waterbirds in Iran in the 1970s. Podoces, 2(1), 1-21. www.wesca.net

 

Edit (3/8/2015): Amir Ben Dov has provided the following summary report from Israel:

Larus armenicus Ben Dov 2015

This entry was posted in Archive, Europe & Central Asia, Middle East, Seabirds, Waterbirds and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Archived 2015 topics: Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus) – uplist from Least Concern to Near Threatened?

  1. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Amir Ben Dov has kindly provided a report detailing the species’ status in Israel. The full report can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of the original discussion text, and the summary is copied here:

    The status of the Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus) in Israel

    The Armenian Gull (Larus armenicus) breeds in eastern Turkey, Armenia, southern Georgia and northwestern Iran. Its breeding habitat, high-altitude inland lakes, is under risk and as a result it is likely that the global breeding population is declining as well.

    It is an abundant winter visitor and passage migrant in Israel, and is the commonest large gull in Israel. Birds are seen throughout Israel in varying numbers almost year-round, peaking between late September and Mid-March.

    Targeted counts of this species in Israel between 1980 and 2015 indicate a major decline, from estimations of over 60,000 individual birds in Israel in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s down to about 22,000-26,000 birds in recent years (2009–2014).
    Likely causes for this decline are a decline in breeding populations, but also the modernization of sewage and rubbish treatment facilities in Israel reduced habitat quality in some sites in Israel.

    A dramatic decline in the breeding population in Turkey was noted in recent years, and probably also in Iran the situation is not good, But all over its range monitoring is difficult and information is scarce, Therefore monitoring results in Israel that is the main wintering ground for the species may be a strong indication for the global status and should raise great concern regarding its status. Its global status should be carefully discussed.

  2. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List would be to treat:

    Armenian Gull as Near Threatened under criterion A2+3+4.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 August, after which the recommended categorisation will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  3. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List status of this species.

    The final categorisation will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessment by BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.