Comments about Armenia.
In Armenia the last census (2019) shows presence of 14,800 breeding pairs in two colonies: Lake Arpi (8,200 breeding pairs) and Lake Sevan (6,600 breeding pairs). The population increased on 68% during 17 years (2003-2019), demonstrating an average increase on 4% per year. Most of the increase is observed after 2008-2009, when the Lake Arpi National Park was created to protect the major colony in the country, and the Government started raising the water level of Lake Sevan (where the second colony breeds).
Non-breeding individuals are dispersed throughout the country occupying wide variety of water bodies: lakes, reservoirs, fish-ponds, and river valleys.
The area of occupancy of the breeding colonies is therefore restricted by Lake Arpi and Lake Sevan, and within Armenia makes 1,264 square km.
Major threats for the species in the country:
– poaching on the species in the fish-farms of Ararat Plain, where non-breeding individuals concentrate year-round and adult individuals concentrate during wintering.
– eutrophication of the Lake Sevan – the bloom of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) which was during last three years, can cause decrease of food supply.
– the need to repair the dam at Lake Arpi (which in fact is a reservoir), which can create temporal, but critical decrease of the water level.
Aghababyan K., Khachatryan A., Gevorgyan V., Ghazaryan A. (in prep) The current state of Armenian Gull in Armenia: what was changed in 17 years. The manuscript is being produced by BirdLinks Armenia NGO for submission to Bird Conservation International.
The mentioned data and analyses are the property of BirdLinks Armenia NGO.
Turkey probably hosts the majority of the worlds breeding populations. However the breeding colonies in Eastern Turkey, particularly around Lake Van and at Lake Çıldır are not censused regularly and reliably.
During the Second European Breeding Bird Atlas work in Turkey we collected some numbers on breeding pairs. Most information is generated by biologists at local universities. Breeding pair estimations are available only from 8 of 14 atlas squares. The total sums to about 3500 pairs. But I believe that the real figure might be between 7000-10000 pairs, as good quality of nest surveys and counts are not available.
The species, as known, is a common scavenger feeding on landfill sites. The winter population might be an underestimation of the real population, as most birds stay around the cities and shoreline, away from wetlands and other areas that are not included in the Mid Winter Waterbird Count surveys.
Now and then, in national and local newspapers, news appear about mass deaths of gulls at Lake Van. Those news are usually exaggerated reaction of non-scientists for the discovery of dead gulls.
In summary, I think the species should be downlisted to LC.
Following careful review and consideration of the existing available information, as well as the contributions to the consultation above, we have now reached a decision on the status of this species for both the 2021 global Red List update and the 2021 European Red List. Our conclusion is that this species should be classified as Least Concern, representing a reclassification from its current status of Near Threatened, owing to the fact that its population is increasing, not declining. We acknowledge potential threats and conservation needs, which will be mentioned accordingly.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion above and helped to inform this outcome. The 2021 European Red List will be published this autumn, and the 2021 global Red List update including this assessment will be published on the BirdLife and IUCN websites in December.
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