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.
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: