Archived 2017 topics: African Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini): downlist from Near Threatened to Least Concern?

This discussion was first published as part of the 2016 Red List update. At the time a decision regarding its status was pended, but to enable potential reassessment of this species as part of the 2017 Red List update this post remained open and the date of posting was updated.

BirdLife species factsheet for African Oystercatcher:   http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/factsheet/22693627

African Oystercatcher is currently classified as Near Threatened owing to its small population and hence almost qualifies for Vulnerable under criterion C1 but with an uncertain population trend.

This species breeds along the coast of Namibia and South Africa, with some movements to Angola and Mozambique during the non-breeding season. The total population is estimated at 6,670 individuals (Underhill 2014), roughly equivalent to 4,450 mature individuals. While this number is quite low, there is relatively strong evidence that the population has been increasing for some time thanks to improved habitat management, with a c. 46% increase between 1979/80 and 1997-2002, and this increase is likely continuing (Underhill 2014). Given that this species does not qualify for any threatened category, and the population is now increasing we suggest downlisting it from Near Threatened to Least Concern as has also occurred in Taylor et al.’s (2015) assessment of this species for the regional Red Data Book.

We welcome any comments on this proposed downlisting.

Reference

Underhill, L. 2014. Assessment of the conservation status of African Black Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini. International Wader Studies 20: 97-108.

Taylor, M. R.; Peacock, F.; Wanless, R. M. 2015. The 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.

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3 Responses to Archived 2017 topics: African Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini): downlist from Near Threatened to Least Concern?

  1. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Based on available information, our proposal for the 2016 Red List would be to pend the decision on this species and keep this discussion open until 2017, while leaving the current Red List category unchanged in the 2016 update.

    Final 2016 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  2. I agree with this proposal to down list the African Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini) from Near Threatened to Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. The global African Oystercatcher population increased significantly between 1980 and the early 2000s, with numbers decreasing on only 41 of 239 stretches of the mainland coast (Loewenthal et al. 2015). Even with rapid urban development at some of these sites; approximately 80% have still seen population improvements and expansion (Loewenthal et al. 2015).

    Although more recent global estimates are not available, the conservation status of the African Oystercatcher improved greatly (1980-2000s); and through extrapolation of this data, current populations are likely well over the previous estimate of 6 670 birds, calculated from the last survey. Due to this increase in population the regional Red Data Book of 2015 (Taylor et al. 2015) downgraded this species to Least Concern. The assessment in Birds to Watch in Namibia (Simmons et al. 2015) however, left the classification as Near Threatened due to the small population size (<10 000). Although the population is still estimated at less than 10 000 birds (reassessment needed), the improved breeding performance since 1980 and an associated rapid increase in population size (Loewenthal et al. 2015, 2016) contradict other criteria used to include the species in former regional (Barnes 2000) and international (IUCN 2016) Red Data Lists. Given current trends I believe the status can be changed to Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

    Furthermore, before their passing in 2013 and 2014 respectively, Prof. Philip Hockey and Dr. Douglas Loewenthal (Coordinators of the Fitzpatrick’s Oystercatcher Conservation Programme) both agreed that this change should be made in the near future. Although this change is encouraged I still believe this species to be of concern as their habitat is under growing pressure from anthropogenic effects and may see declines in the future if current ORV (off road vehicle) laws and reserves are not maintained.

    I apologise if this comment appears rushed as I was only made aware of this recently and as a result had to do it very quickly. If any additional comments are needed please let me know.

    Simmons RE, Brown CJ, Kemper J. 2015. Birds to watch in Namibia: red, rare and endemic species. Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
    Loewenthal D, Paijmans DM, Haupt P, Hockey PAR. 2015a. Trends in African Black Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini populations between the early 1980s and early 2000s, with consideration of the influence of protected habitats and food availability. Ostrich 86: 9–21.
    Loewenthal D, Paijmans DM, Hockey PAR. 2016. Factors affecting the breeding success of the African Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini): a perspective on protection and food availability. African Zoology, 51:4, 193-202.

  3. James Westrip (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2017 Red List would be to list:

    African Oystercatcher as Least Concern.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 4 August, after which the recommended categorisations will be put forward to IUCN.

    Please note that we will then only post final recommended categorisations on forum discussions where these differ from the initial proposal.

    The final 2017 Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in early December, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

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