White-eyed Gull (Larus leucophthalmus) breeds on inshore islands and islets of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, while in the non-breeding season some individuals may wander throughout the breeding range. PERSGA/GEF (2003) estimated there to be 12,000-13,000 pairs (excluding Eritrea), while Semere et al. (2008) recorded 5,900 pairs on Eritrean Islands; thus the overall population size may be 35,800-37,800 mature individuals. The population trend is currently considered to be stable (Rose and Scott 1997, Symes et al. 2015).
White-eyed Gull is currently listed as Near Threatened under criterion A3de on the basis that the species may experience a moderately rapid decline in the future as a result of threats such as egg and chick harvesting for food, oil spills and introduced predators (BirdLife International 2017). However, a recent regional Red List assessment of the breeding birds of the Arabian Peninsula (Symes et al. 2015) has listed White-eyed Gull as Least Concern, as the potential threats to the species may actually be fairly minor.
Given this new information we therefore re-assess the species against all Red List criteria.
Criterion A – The species is currently considered to be stable, and apparently has been for some time. Therefore, given that the impacts of potential threats may in fact be quite minor (from Symes et al. 2015), the potential for moderately rapid future declines is actually very low. Thus the species likely does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under this criterion.
Criterion B – The species’ Extent of Occurrence (403,000km2) far exceeds the threshold for Vulnerable under criterion B1. Its Area of Occupancy (1,400km2) does fall under the threshold for Vulnerable under criterion B2. However, it does not meet the other conditions required for listing under criterion B, and so this species does not warrant listing under this criterion.
Criterion C – The population size is too large, and the current population trend is considered to be stable. Therefore, White-eyed Gull does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under this criterion.
Criterion D – The population size is too large to fall beneath the thresholds for this criterion, and not restricted to an extremely small area/number of locations. Therefore, the species does not approach the threshold for Vulnerable under this criterion.
Criterion E – To the best of our knowledge no quantitative analysis of extinction risk has been conducted for this species.
Therefore, as in Symes et al. (2015) the species is assessed as likely warranting listing as Least Concern. We welcome and comments on this proposed downlisting.
Please note that this topic is not designed to be a general discussion about the ecology of the species, rather a discussion of the species’ Red List status. Therefore, please make sure your comments are about the proposed listing.
BirdLife International. 2017. Species factsheet: Larus leucophthalmus. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/10/2017.
PERSGA/GEF. 2003. Status of breeding seabirds in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. PERSGA, Jeddah.
Rose, P. M.; Scott, D. A. 1997. Waterfowl population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Semere, D.; Hagos, T.; Seleba, G.; Gebrezgabhier, Y.; Haile, Z.; Chiozzi, G.; De Marchi, G. 2008. The status of breeding seabirds and waterbirds on the Eritrean Red Sea islands. Bull. ABC 15(2): 228-237.
Symes, A.; Taylor, J.; Mallon, D.; Porter, R.; Simms, C.; Budd, K. 2015. The Conservation Status and Distribution of the Breeding Birds of the Arabian Peninsula. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – Regional Assessment. Cambridge, U.K. and Gland, Switzerland: IUCN, and Sharjah, U.A.E.: Environment and Protected Areas Authority.