Larus canus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Laridae

Scientific Name: Larus canus Linnaeus, 1758
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Mew Gull, Common Gull
French Goéland cendré
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): Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Malpas, L. & Newton, P.
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). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds 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]

Range Description:This species breeds in northern Europe, northern Asia and north-west North America. Most populations, except those in Iceland, around the North and Baltic Sea, and some off the coast of Canada migrate south. This expands its range to include the Pacific coast of North America down to Baja California (Mexico), the Pacific coast of Asia down to northern Vietnam, the Atlantic coasts of France and Portugal, the southern and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, the entire coasts of the Black Sea and Persian Gulf, and the south coast of the Caspian Sea (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Canada; China; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Egypt; Estonia; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Georgia; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Latvia; Lebanon; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Mexico; Moldova; Mongolia; Montenegro; Netherlands; Norway; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation (Central Asian Russia, Eastern Asian Russia, European Russia); Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Tunisia; Turkey; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States; Viet Nam
Regionally extinct:
Afghanistan; Bahrain; Bhutan; Gambia; Greenland; Hong Kong; India; Libya; Liechtenstein; Malta; Mauritania; Morocco; Myanmar; Nepal; Oman; Pakistan; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; United Arab Emirates
Present - origin uncertain:
Palau; Taiwan, Province of China
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:75300000
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
Upper elevation limit (metres):1400
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The global population is estimated to number c.2,500,000-3,700,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 640,000-1,080,000 pairs, which equates to 1,280,000-2,160,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). National population sizes have been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend Justification:  The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species across its wide range (del Hoyo et al. 1996). In Europe the population size is estimated to be decreasing by less than 25% in 29.4 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing 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:Behaviour This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds from May onwards in solitary pairs or in single- and mixed-species colonies of up to 300 pairs (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996) or more (e.g. 1,000 pairs in Baltic region (Snow and Perrins 1998)). Outside of the breeding season the species remains gregarious, foraging in flocks of up to one hundred or more individuals during the winter, flock sizes depending upon the habitat and conditions (Snow and Perrins 1998). Habitat Breeding The species breeds along the coast (Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) and inland (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) in a variety of sites not necessarily close to wetlands (del Hoyo et al. 1996). On the coast it nests on grassy and rocky cliff-ledges (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), grassy slopes (Richards 1990, Snow and Perrins 1998), inshore rocky islets, islands and stacks (Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), and on sand and shingle beaches, banks and dunes (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) amongst tide-wrack or flood debris (Snow and Perrins 1998). Inland the species nests on small islands in freshwater and saline lakes (Flint et al. 1984), shingle bars or small islets in streams or rivers (Richards 1990), islets, artificial structures and shores of artificial waterbodies with short, sparse vegetation (Skorka et al. 2006), and on bogs (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996), meadows (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and grass or heather moorland near small pools (Richards 1990, Snow and Perrins 1998) or lakes (Snow and Perrins 1998). After the young fledge the species often disperses to coasts, tidal estuaries, agricultural land and reservoirs (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season it occupies similar habitats to when it is breeding, although it may occur more frequently along the coast during this period (Snow and Perrins 1998) on estuaries with low salinities, sandy beaches and estuarine mudflats (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003). Diet Its diet consists of earthworms, insects, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. planktonic crustaceans (del Hoyo et al. 1996), crayfish and molluscs (Flint et al. 1984)) and small fish (del Hoyo et al. 1996). During the spring the species will also take agricultural grain (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and often scavanges (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003). Breeding site The nest is a shallow cup of vegetation placed on grass, rock, sand, shingle, earth or floating and marshy vegetation (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in a variety of coastal and inland locations (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The species may also nest off the ground on artificial structures, in nest-boxes and in trees (Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information The species may benefit from the removal of introduced predators such as American mink Neovison vison from small breeding islands (Nordstrom et al. 2003), and has been known to nest on artificial rafts intended to encourage other species (e.g. Common Tern Sterna hirundo) to breed (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003).

Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):9.8
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Breeding In north and west Europe the species is threatened at breeding colonies by predation from introduced ground predators such as American mink Neovison vison (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003), and by disturbance from tourism, angling and research activities during the laying period (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003). Inland populations breeding in colonies near rivers are also vulnerable to mass outbreaks of black flies (Simuliidae) (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003). The species is also threatened by the transformation and loss of its breeding habitats through land reclamation, drainage, afforestation (e.g. with conifers) and dam construction (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003). Non-breeding In its wintering range the species is potentially threatened by the activities of fisheries (e.g. reductions in fishing effort, increases in net mesh sizes and exploitation of formerly non-commercial fish species) and their effects on competition for prey resources (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003). Other threats to wintering sites include land reclamation and drainage (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003). Utilisation Egg collecting from in colonies occurs in Germany, Scotland, the Russian Federation and Poland, and the species is shot in the Russian Federation (Bukacinski and Bukacinska 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The following information refers to the species's European range only: The species is listed under the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. In the EU it is listed on Annex II of the Birds Directive. 83 Important Bird Areas have been identified for the species across the European region. In the EU it is listed in 381 Special Protection Areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Continued invasive predator eradication programmes at breeding sites; monitoring of egg collection activities to ensure sustainability. Management of existing protected sites and Important Bird Areas to reduce habitat degradation and conversion. On board fisheries observer programmes to monitor levels of fisheries bycatch.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Larus canus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22694308A86717781. . Downloaded on 18 July 2018.
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