Polysticta stelleri 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Anseriformes Anatidae

Scientific Name: Polysticta stelleri (Pallas, 1769)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Steller's Eider
Spanish Eider chico, Eider de Steller
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.
Identification information: 43-47 cm. Smallish marine duck with squarish head and angular bill; breeding plumage male unmistakable (in eclipse blackish with white secondary coverts); 1st winter male brown with faint suggestion of male head markings - blackish throat and collar; female red-brown with blue tertials (except 1st winter when brown) and whitish inner webs. Most female-type plumages show pale eye ring. Flight fast with rapid beats; male shows white forewing and trailing edge, female has thin white wing bar and trailing edge. Similar spp. Best told from other Eiders in non adult male plumage by shape and size supported by various plumage features described above. Hints Occurs in tight flocks which dive simultaneously, search amongst other eider species away from main range.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-03-31
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ashpole, J, Burfield, I., Ieronymidou, C., Pople, R., Wheatley, H. & Wright, L
European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
EU27 regional assessment: Endangered (EN)

In Europe, although this species may have a small range it is not believed to 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). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to 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). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern in Europe.

In the EU27 the species is undergoing rapid declines, and it is therefore classified as Endangered (C1), and there is not considered to be significant potential for rescue from outside the EU27, so the final category is unchanged.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:In Europe, the species breeds from the Yamal Peninsula, Russia, eastwards. Non-breeding populations summer in Novaya Zemlya, Russia, northern Norway and adjacent Russian waters (C. Dau in litt. 1999, Carboneras and Kirwan 2014).
Countries occurrence:
Estonia; Finland; Latvia; Lithuania; Norway; Poland; Russian Federation (European Russia); Sweden
Belgium; Denmark; France; Germany; Greenland; Iceland; Netherlands; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; United Kingdom
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:13400
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):UnknownExtreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:11-100Continuing decline in number of locations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations:No
Range Map:22680415-1

Population [top]

Population:The minimum European population in winter is estimated at 30,800-41,200 individuals, which equates to 20,500-27,500 mature individuals. There also exists a marginal breeding population in Europe estimated at 5-50 pairs, which equates to 10-100 mature individuals. The species occurs in the EU27 only in winter and the minimum population in the EU27 is estimated at 820-2,200 individuals, which equates to 550-1,500 mature individuals. For details of national estimates, see the Supplementary Material.

Trend Justification:  In Europe the population size in winter is estimated to be stable. In the EU27 the population size in winter is estimated to be decreasing by 25% or more in 10.9 years (one generation). For details of national estimates, see attached PDF.
For further information about this species, see 22680415_polysticta_stelleri.pdf.
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Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:20500-27500,23500Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:2-100Continuing decline in subpopulations:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations:NoAll individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species very rarely breeds in Europe (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). Small numbers of birds winter in Europe, mostly at sea, along low-lying rocky coasts and frequenting bays and river mouths (Carboneras and Kirwan 2014). It feeds mostly by diving, chiefly consuming molluscs, crustaceans and other marine invertebrates as well as small fish and freshwater insects and larvae. The species is migratory, travelling 3,000 km to its moulting sites (Kear 2005), before some continue migration to more distant wintering sites (Petersen et al. 2006). It arrives at its wintering grounds in Europe between October and November and departs April to May (Carboneras and Kirwan 2014). Some birds remain at wintering sites over the summer (Kear 2005)
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):10.9
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Over-hunting in Siberia and in other breeding areas may be impacting the population. Eiders breeding in Russia are subject to human subsistence harvesting and exposure to lead shot. Males are subject to particular hunting pressure as they arrive on the moulting grounds before females (Morse 2009). Increasing human habitation of Arctic regions has increased the range and numbers of ravens (Corvus corax) and some large gulls, leading to a greater risk of predation (Kear 2005). Recent dramatic changes in Arctic sea ice extent and thickness north of Alaska and Russia may affect eiders in unknown ways (Kear 2005). In addition, climate change is causing the loss of Arctic tundra ponds (Andresen and Lougheed 2015), which could be contributing to declines in this species. Habitat loss also occurs through prospecting for, and the exploitation of, natural resources such as oil and gas (Kear 2005). The increasing traffic of tankers carrying oil from Arctic areas imposes the risk of contamination following spills (Kear 2005). It is not currently clear which of these many factors is driving the overall decline (K. Laing in litt. 2004, ┼Żydelis et al. 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix I and II. EU Birds Directive Annex I. Bern Convention Appendix II. A European action plan was published in 2000 (Anon. 2001). It is a protected species in Russia. Work has begun in Russia to conduct waterfowl population and subsistence harvest surveys (K. Laing in litt. 2004).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey breeding and wintering grounds (particularly surrounding the Kola Peninsula, Russia) to determine population size and trends. Determine causes of current declines. Work to mitigate threats such as lead poisoning. Ensure subsistence harvest is sustainable.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2015. Polysticta stelleri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T22680415A59971639. . Downloaded on 23 July 2018.
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