Lagopus muta 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Galliformes Phasianidae

Scientific Name: Lagopus muta (Montin, 1776)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Rock Ptarmigan, Ptarmigan
Lagopus mutus BirdLife International (2004)
Lagopus mutus Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994)
Lagopus mutus Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)
Taxonomic Source(s): AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.

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:
Andorra; Austria; Canada; China; Finland; France; Germany; Greenland; Iceland; Italy; Japan; Kazakhstan; Liechtenstein; Mongolia; Norway; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Slovenia; Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Tajikistan; United Kingdom; United States
Faroe Islands
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:77700000
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:NoLower elevation limit (metres):2000
Upper elevation limit (metres):5000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number > c.8,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2004). The European population is estimated at 257,000-1,010,000 pairs, which equates to 514,000-2,020,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms approximately 10% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 5,140,000-20,200,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. National population estimates include: <c.100 breeding pairs in China; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs in Japan and c.100,000-1 million breeding pairs in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend Justification:  The population has declined locally owing to habitat loss (especially over-grazing by sheep) and mountain tourism, including establishment of ski-resorts. The species is not thought to be vulnerable to over-hunting (del Hoyo et al. 1994). In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing at a rate approaching 30% in 12.6 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:5000000-24999999Continuing 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 inhabits rocky tundra with fairly sparse vegetation or alpine summits. It is rarely found in areas of high shrubs or below the tree line. During winter it lives in less snowy regions or uses windswept ridges and slopes due to its dependence on ground vegetation for food. Laying is generally in June, however birds in Scotland lay from late May and those in Spitsbergen from mid-June (de Juana et al. 2016). It typically lays five to eight eggs but sometimes up to twelve (Madge and McGowan 2002). The nest is a shallow depression lined with plant material and some feathers, usually in the open and sheltered by a large stone or shrub. In winter it takes food from the ground, mainly buds and twigs of species including Salix. In the Alps and other southern areas its main winter foods are berry bearing shrubs including Vaccinium and Empetrum. In spring and autumn it has a more varied diet taking leaves, flowers, berries and seeds of a wide range of plants. Most populations make limited movements, which are largely altitudinal and depend on local conditions and weather (de Juana et al. 2016).
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):4.2
Movement patterns:Altitudinal Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species faces some pressures at a local scale, such as habitat degradation and over-hunting (Madge and McGowan 2002). It is particularly susceptible to over-harvesting in the spring. Most habitat loss occurs due to the development of tourist facilities such as ski facilities and collision with cables around ski stations can cause mortality. Human presence may cause disturbance and displace birds from their wintering habitat. It is thought that, in Sweden, overgrazing from reindeer is causing declines (Storch 2007). A recent decrease detected in the Swiss Alps, of 30% in a decade was attributed to climatic change (de Juana et al. 2016). Climatic warming in the Arctic has resulted in a rapid expansion of woody shrubs over the past half century which may result in habitat loss for the species (de Juana et al. 2016).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
EU Birds Directive Annex I and II. In most of its European range, the only management is the setting of hunting seasons and bag limits and in Europe it is only protected in a few countries. A small proportion of its range is covered by protective areas, although these are considered to only have a low role in species survival except in those countries at the edge of the range (e.g., Andorra, France, Spain). Most monitoring is limited to the local scale. In Germany a programme to limit human disturbance by ski-touring has been initiated and in Iceland research into the effects of hunting there is ongoing (Storch 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitoring of populations in areas with potentially high hunting pressures should be undertaken to ensure they are sustainable. Measures should be taken in mountain ranges with high tourism to minimise the spatial and temporal overlap between important habitats and recreational activities and their effectiveness monitored. Also, actions to minimize the numbers of generalist predators in these areas should be taken. Research into the impacts of hunting and habitat alteration on population dynamics should be undertaken. More understanding of its migration and dispersal behaviour and the survival of young birds over winter is needed (Storch 2007).

Errata [top]

Errata reason: Reference corrected.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Lagopus muta (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22679464A113623562. . Downloaded on 20 August 2018.
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