Larus melanocephalus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Laridae

Scientific Name: Larus melanocephalus Temminck, 1820
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Mediterranean Gull
French Mouette mélanocéphale
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., Calvert, R., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L.
This species has a very 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 estimated to be decreasing but it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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 almost entirely in Europe, mainly on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, with a recent spread to the northern Caucasian Plains and Azerbaijan. It also breeds at scattered localities throughout Europe, including the Netherlands, southern France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, southern England, Belgium, Germany and Spain. It winters in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, north-west Europe and north-west Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Algeria; Austria; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Egypt; France; Germany; Gibraltar; Greece; Hungary; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Lebanon; Libya; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Malta; Mauritania; Montenegro; Morocco; Netherlands; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation (European Russia); Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United Kingdom
Finland; Gambia; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kuwait; Latvia; Norway; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sudan; United Arab Emirates
Present - origin uncertain:
Iraq; Monaco; Western Sahara
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:7980000
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 European population was recently estimated at 118,000-328,000 pairs, which equates to 236,000-656,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend Justification:  The population in Europe is suspected to be decreasing by less than 25% in 30.3 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:230000-659999Continuing 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 Most populations of this species are fully migratory and travel along coastlines between their breeding and wintering areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Olsen and Larsson 2003) (although a minority travel inland across Asian Turkey or follow major river valleys through Eastern and central Europe) (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species returns to its breeding colonies from late-February (Olsen and Larsson 2003) to early-April, with most beginning to breed from early-May (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The Autumn migration to the wintering grounds occurs from late-June onwards (Olsen and Larsson 2003). The species breeds in colonies, usually of less than 1,000 pairs and occasionally in single pairs amidst colonies of other species (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It often breeds near but not among Sandwich Terns Thalasseus sandvicensis, or intermingling with Larus ridibundus (del Hoyo et al. 1996). When breeding in coastal areas the species may fly up to 80 km away from the colony to feed on inland grassland (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding The species breeds on the Mediterranean coast at lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996), estuaries (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) and sometimes coastal saltmarsh (del Hoyo et al. 1996), often also breeding inland on large steppe lakes and marshes in open lowland areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). It nests near water on flood-lands, fields and grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) and on wet or dry areas of islands (Snow and Perrins 1998), favouring sparse vegetation but generally avoiding barren sand (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species becomes entirely coastal (del Hoyo et al. 1996), favouring estuaries (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), harbours (del Hoyo et al. 1996), saline lagoons and other sheltered waters (Urban et al. 1986). Diet Breeding During the breeding season its diet consists of terrestrial and aquatic insects, gastropods, small numbers of fish and rodents (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding When not breeding the species takes marine fish, molluscs (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), insects (Urban et al. 1986) (e.g. beetles and grasshoppers) (Milchev et al. 2004), earthworms, berries (Urban et al. 1986), seeds (e.g. of barley, wheat, sunflowers and ragwort) (Milchev et al. 2004), offal (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and occasionally sewage and refuse (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression, situated on the ground in sparsely vegetated sites, thickets or reedbeds (del Hoyo et al. 1996) near water (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species breeds in dense colonies, with neighbouring pairs c.60 cm apart (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information Artificially constructed nesting sites in coastal locations such as beaches of bare shingle and islands or rafts covered with sparse vegetation are successful in attracting breeding pairs of this species (Burgess and Hirons 1992). A conservation scheme for the protection of gull and tern breeding colonies in coastal lagoons and deltas (e.g. Po Delta, Italy) involves protection from human disturbance, prevention of erosion of islet complexes, habitat maintenance and the creation of new islets for nest sites (Fasola and Canova 1996). The scheme particularly specifies that bare islets with 30-100 % cover of low vegetation (sward heights less than 20 cm) should be maintained or created as nesting sites (Fasola and Canova 1996).
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Unknown
Generation Length (years):10.1
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species sustains heavy losses as a result of tourist disturbance at breeding colonies (James 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species may also be threatened by habitat loss resulting from tourism development, and by marine pollution (e.g. oil spills and chemical discharges) (James 1984). Utilisation Eggs and adults are collected from breeding colonies by fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea (James 1984).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The following information refers to the species's European range only: The species is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species, and is covered under the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. It is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention and on Annex I of the EU Birds Directive. It is listed within 127 Important Bird Areas. Within the EU it is listed as occurring within 424 Special Protection Areas.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Identification of site based threats and management of protected areas.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2016. Larus melanocephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22694443A86702484. . Downloaded on 25 September 2018.
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