Lagopus lagopus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Galliformes Phasianidae

Scientific Name: Lagopus lagopus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Willow Grouse, Willow Grouse and Red Grouse
Taxonomic Source(s): Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-10-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Belarus; Canada; China; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; Germany; Ireland; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Mongolia; Norway; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States
Belgium; Faroe Islands
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:48000000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number > c.40,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2004). The European population is estimated at 1,010,000-2,150,000 pairs, which equates to 2,020,000-4,310,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 15% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 13,000,000-28,700,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed.The breeding population in Russia is estimated at c.100,000-1 million breeding pairs (Brazil 2009).

Trend Justification:  This species is widespread and common. It is suspected to exhibit marked three-fold to five-fold population fluctuations over ten year cycles. However declines have been noted locally owing to over-hunting. The species range has contracted in certain regions such as the Balkans, possibly owing to climatic changes (del Hoyo et al. 1994). In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing by 30-49% in 12.6 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:10000000-29999999Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The species is found primarily in Arctic tundra, extending south in alpine mountain ranges and along or below the tree line, in openings of boreal forest. It prefers low, moderately moist areas with low shrubs, mosses, grasses and herbs avoiding rocky or lichen-rich tundra and steep slopes. Males prefer territories in areas with vegetation lower than eye level and elevated sites such as rocks, trees or hummocks for displaying on. Generally laying occurs in May and June. It normally lays eight to eleven eggs. The nest is a shallow scrape with a thin lining in thick vegetation which usually partially covers it. It feeds on buds and twigs of Salix and birch (Betula) in winter. From spring to autumn leaves and berries of Vaccinium and Empetrum are important parts of its diet. It is sedentary in the U.K. and Scandinavia, only making short-range altitudinal movements, but at least partially migratory elsewhere (de Juana et al. 2016).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):4.2
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is hunted everywhere except the Baltic Countries, Belarus and China. In the Russian tundra annual bags estimated at c. 8,000,000 birds (c. 2,000,000 west of the Urals) but professional hunting of the species ceased in Russia at the end of the 20th century (de Juana et al. 2016). The species is less intensively hunted in North America. The species probably tolerates heavy levels of shooting, however in combination with other pressures, such as reductions in habitat quality and extent it can have adverse effects (Madge and McGowan 2002). Important declines in Finland were attributed to excessive hunting. Range contractions in Europe have been attributed to climatic changes (de Juana et al. 2016). It is also vulnerable to collisions with high-tension powerlines and deer fences (Madge and McGowan 2002).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species is protected in the Baltic countries, Belarus and China (Madge and McGowan 2002), elsewhere the setting of hunting seasons and bag limits is generally the only management activity. Monitoring does occur in parts of Europe; In Norway several populations are regularly monitored, whereas in other parts of Fennoscandia and Britain, only some populations are monitored. In Britain, intensive habitat management has increased the density of this species well above natural levels in some areas (Storch 2007). There have been many attempted introductions, although most of them failed, (e.g. scotica in Germany and Belgium and native subspecies in Russia) (de Juana et al. 2016). 

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitoring of populations in areas with potentially high hunting pressures should be undertaken to ensure they are sustainable. Research into the impacts of hunting and habitat alteration on population dynamics should be undertaken. More understanding of its migration and dispersal behaviour and its ability to cope with climate warming in some of its range is needed (Storch 2007).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Lagopus lagopus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22679460A89520690. . Downloaded on 17 August 2018.
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