Archived 2015 topics: Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) – uplist from Least Concern to Near Threatened or Vulnerable?

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus breeds from Europe, Turkey and NW Iran through W Russia and Kazakhstan to S & E Siberia, Mongolia and N China, and winters from W Europe, the E Atlantic islands and N Africa through the Mediterranean, Middle East and Iran across N India to SE China, Korea and S Japan (Wiersma 1996). 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, it has an extremely large range in both the breeding season (>18 million km2) and in winter (>6 million km2), and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criteria (B and D2). Its population size is also extremely large (5.6–10.5 million individuals; Wetlands International 2012), 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 has declined significantly in recent years, and that this decline is ongoing. 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, suggests that both the European breeding and wintering populations have declined overall by 30–40% over the last three generations (27 years, based on a generation length estimated by BirdLife to be 9 years). This corresponds well with the strong declining trend evident in the relevant flyway population (Europe and W Asia) between 1988–2012, based on midwinter counts conducted as part of the International Waterbird Census (Nagy et al. 2014), and with the declining breeding trend reported by PECBMS (the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme). Consequently, the species is now classified as Vulnerable at European level (BirdLife International 2015).

Based on the latest estimates (Wetlands International 2012), Europe holds between 75–85% of the global breeding population, so this decline is globally significant. No recent information is available about the trends of the two other flyway populations, which breed in Asia (mainly in S Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and N China) and winter in S and E Asia, respectively (Wetlands International 2012). Together, however, these are thought to comprise less than 25% of the global population. Overall, therefore, the species appears to qualify for uplisting to at least Near Threatened and possibly Vulnerable under criterion A.

Comments on this proposal are welcome, along with any data on the current sizes and trends of the Asian flyway populations, and any information about the threats affecting this species across its range.


BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities.

Wiersma, P. (1996). Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus). 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.

Nagy, S., Flink, S., Langendoen, T. (2014) Waterbird trends 1988-2012: Results of trend analyses of data from the International Waterbird Census in the African-Eurasian Flyway. Wetlands International, Ede.

Wetlands International (2012) Waterbird Population Estimates: 5th edition.

This entry was posted in Africa, Archive, Asia, Europe & Central Asia, Middle East, Waterbirds and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Archived 2015 topics: Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) – uplist from Least Concern to Near Threatened or Vulnerable?

  1. Dr Anwaruddin Choudhury says:

    It is a matter of concern. They winter in Assam often in good numbers, flocks of 20-30 plus or occasionally 50 plus are also encountered. But if their breeding population suffers decline, apparently wintering numbers would also decline, which may not be visible immediately but in course of time. Hence, upgrading to NT may ensure better conservation attention.

  2. Yvonne Verkuil says:

    An useful reference could be:
    Revealing the contributions of reproduction and survival to the Europe-wide decline in meadow birds: review and meta-analysis, by Maja Roodbergen, Bert van der Werf & Hermann Hotker, in J Ornithol (2012) 153:53–74. DOI 10.1007/s10336-011-0733-y

    This paper shows that in lapwing there is no overall decline in adult survival, but that chick survival declined strongly in the last 40 years.

  3. Michele Sorrenti says:

    Some other publication on lapwing conservation (i.e. UE Management Plan) demonstrate that the species suffers low productivity due to agricultural practice and predation. So the conservation of lapwing is dependent on what will be done for such problems.
    Harvest data of lapwing specialist hunters in Italy collected from 2004/05 to 2009/10 show stable trend. Data from official collection of harvest data (all hunters) from 2003/04 to 2012/13 shows in many regions quite stable trends except from one northern region (Lombardia) where a clear decline is in place.
    IWC results show increase from 1993 to 2010. From such data the NT definition seems suitable.

  4. Dr. Nicky Petkov says:

    Given the large breeding range and potential restricted data across that range of the species it might be better to await better evidence from other parts of the range before uplisting to Vulnerable based on European data mostly.
    A NT status might be a better step. It seems that concerted efforts and lobbying for improvement of the breeding habitat management could maintain and improve breeding of the species so work in that direction might reduce the need of uplisting in the long run.

  5. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Milan Vogrin provided the following comment:
    Is very interesting species. Its decline very fast from wet meadows (since its disaper) but on the other side its adjust to intensive agricultural areas (e.g. Vogrin Milan. Breeding waders in Slovenia. Ornis Svecica, 2000,10: 141-148.
    However the survival is problem theri due predation and intensive cultivation of such fields. I suggest to put this species on higher level.

  6. Breeding population have decreased at 20-30% level during the 12 years period (2001-2012). This happened because of huge changes in the agriculture practice as transformation of the meadows and pastures to the arable land, which predetermine law productivity (lost of the nests) because of the intensive cultivation of arable land during the incubation period. The prospects for the future, having in mind continuously transformation of the natural habitats to the arable land, are very pessimistic with expectation of the further population decline.

  7. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Yoav Perlman and colleagues at Israel Ornithological Center / Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel have provided a summary of the status of Northern Lapwing in Israel -see summary copied here:

    In the 1980’s it wintered in large concentrations with a total of up to 5000 annually (Shirihai 1996). In recent years numbers seemed to have decreased considerably. No detailed numbers but decreases noted in all parts of Israel where there were concentrations.

  8. Igor Fefelov says:

    In the area around Lake Baikal (Eastern Siberia, Russia), numbers of Northern Lapwing decreased since 1980s – 1990s. Its lesser abundance is especially seen in the southern part of Irkutsk Province. There is a deficiency of exact count data during this period, but *roughly* the decrease is about five times and is visible even on grassland parts, which look to be not changed via human activity since.

  9. R.K. Birjit Singh says:

    There is a sharp declination in the population of Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), one of the most elegant lapwing wintering in Loktak and its associated wetlands at Tangjeng area in Manipur. The species deserve to be up listed in the NT category for better conservation action in view of its current trend of population in the breeding ground.

    Indian Bird Conservation Network(IBCN), Manipur

  10. Decrease of numbers takes place in European Russia, but it is not dramatic: probably 5-20% during 1990-2000s. I think the status Near Threatened will be appropriate for Europe and North Asia at whole.

  11. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List would be to treat:

    Northern Lapwing as Near Threatened under criterion A2+3+4.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 August, after which the recommended categorisation will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  12. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List status of this species.

    The final categorisation will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessment by BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.