Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii breeds on Mediterranean coasts, with its main breeding areas at the Ebro Delta (NE Spain) and Chafarinas Islands (off NE Morocco), and scattered colonies from Portugal, Morocco and Algeria east to the Aegean Sea, S Turkey and Cyprus; it winters south to Senegambia (Burger & Gochfeld 1996). It is currently precautionarily listed as Near Threatened, because when last assessed it was considered possible that it may undergo a moderately rapid population decline in the near future.
Globally, it has an extremely large range in both the breeding season (>1.6 million km2) and in winter (>2 million 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 43,000–44,000 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 at risk of declining moderately rapidly in the near future, at a rate approaching 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) show that the species has not declined overall during the last decade, and that its population is probably now higher than ever. A combination of official data reported by 27 EU Member States to the European Commission under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive and comparable data from other European countries, provided by BirdLife Partners and other leading national ornithologists, show that the European breeding population has increased substantially over the last three generations (39 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 13 years). Since 2000, numbers have remained stable overall, with continued increases in some W and C Mediterranean countries, declines in a few E Mediterranean countries, and fluctuations in Spain, which holds c. 90% of the European population. Consequently, the species is now classified as Least Concern at European level (BirdLife International 2015).
Europe holds c. 95% of the global breeding population and range, with the remainder in NW Africa, so the species’ status in Europe effectively determines its global status. Despite the threats perceived to be facing the species when last assessed (see current global factsheet for details), its population has not declined overall, and the species has continued to consolidate the population and range gains made since the 1970s (Genovart et al. 2008). Furthermore, in 2014, the species received additional protection when many of its key sites were designated as marine protected areas by Spain – including the area offshore from the Ebro Delta, which is heavily used for feeding by birds from the world’s largest breeding colony. The management plans for these areas address many of the key conservation measures required by this species (e.g. strict fishery management policies, protection of key habitats from development and degradation, enforcement of laws to minimise marine pollution, implementation of measures to reduce mortality in fishing gear, etc.). Other marine protected areas for this species have also been designated by other Mediterranean countries.
As the species is not declining, and is unlikely to decline sufficiently rapidly in the near future to be listed as Near Threatened, it should be reclassified as Least Concern. Comments on this proposal are welcome.
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. (1996) Audouin’s Gull (Larus audouinii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. www.hbw.com
Genovart, M. Bertolero, A. Martínez-Abraín, A. (2008) La gaviota de Audouin. En: A. Bertolero, M. Genovart, A. Martínez-Abraín, B. Molina, J. Mouriño, D. Oro y G. Tavecchia. Gaviotas cabecinegra, picofina, de Audouin y tridáctila, y gavión atlántico en España. Población en 2007 y método de censo, pp. 44. SEO/ BirdLife. Madrid. http://www.magrama.gob.es/es/biodiversidad/temas/inventarios-nacionales/22_gaviotas_cabecinegra_picofina_de_aouduin_y_tridactila_y_gavion_atlantico_2007_tcm7-218241.pdf