Pagophila eburnea 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Charadriiformes Laridae

Scientific Name: Pagophila eburnea
Species Authority: (Phipps, 1774)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Ivory Gull
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Gavrilo, M., Miljeteig, C., Stenhouse, I., Strom, H., Volkov, A. & Anderson, O.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Calvert, R., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J., Fisher, S., Harding, M., Malpas, L.
This species has declined rapidly in parts of its range, but its status in other areas is poorly known. A number of factors are likely to be contributing to declines, including climate change, pollution and increasing human intrusion or hunting within breeding areas. It is currently considered Near Threatened; but further surveys are required in order to clarify the true magnitude of declines.

Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Pagophila eburnea has a near-circumpolar distribution in the Arctic seas and pack-ice, breeding from north Canada through Greenland (to Denmark), Svalbard (Svalbard and Jan Meyan Islands (to Norway)) and islands off northern Russia. The Russian population is estimated to number in the range of 14,500-22,000 individuals, with recent surveys giving estimates of including 1,500-3,000 breeding pairs on Franz-Josef Land (European Russia), 5,000-6,000 pairs on Severnaya Zemlya; and 1,500-3,000 pairs in the rest of the Kara Sea Islands (M. Gavrilo in litt. 2007). Other populations include 500-700 individuals in northeast Canada (Hess 2004, Gilchrist and Mallory 2005), at least 4,000 individuals in Greenland (Gilg et al. 2009), and 350-500 pairs in Svalbard (Hess 2004, H. Strom in litt. 2007). Given these totals, the global population is perhaps best placed in the band 19,000-27,000 individuals. The population is possibly larger: extrapolations based on aerial estimates suggested up to 35,000+ between Canada and Greenland in 1978-1979 (Orr and Parsons 1982). The Spitsbergen population is probably decreasing (A. Volkov in litt. 2003), and breeding has apparently recently ceased on Victoria Island in Russia (M. Gavrilo in litt. 2007). Other Russian populations are apparently stable, although interannual fluctuations complicate the calculation of trend estimates. Recent surveys have revealed a drastic decline in Canadian populations, falling from 2,400 birds in 1987 to 500-700 birds in 2002-2003 (Hess 2004), representing an 80% decline in that period across the Canadian breeding range in all three known nesting habitat types (Gilchrist and Mallory 2005). The species seems to be declining in the south of its Greenland breeding range, while in North Greenland the trends are unclear (Gilg et al. 2009). Birds have disappeared from 13 known and three suspected breeding colony sites.

Countries occurrence:
Canada; Greenland; Russian Federation; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; United States
Belgium; Czech Republic; Denmark; Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Germany; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Sweden; Switzerland; United Kingdom
Additional data:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO):NoEstimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:397000
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 population is estimated to number 14,500-22,000 individuals in the Russian Arctic, of which 2,500-10,000 are in European Russia, 4,000 on Severnaya Zemliya and 8,000 on Franz Josef Land and Victoria Island. Between 500-700 were recorded in northeast Canada in 2002-2003, and there are at least 4,000 individuals in Greenland and 50-200 in Svalbard. This givies a total of 19,050-26,900 individuals, rounded here to 19,000-27,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 12,000-18,000 mature individuals. The population is possibly larger: Orr and Parsons (1982) recorded aerial estimates of possibly more than 35,000 individuals between Canada and Greenland in 1978-1979, while del Hoyo et al. (1996) estimated possibly 25,000 pairs (75,000 individuals).

Trend Justification:  Trends difficult to estimate as colony size fluctuates from year to year, but sustained declines have been recorded in Canada. Further information is required on long-term trends in other areas.

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:12000-18000Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
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:This species is migratory (Olsen and Larsson 2003). It breeds between late-June and August (although most pairs do not lay until early-July, and some pairs may not breed if food conditions are unfavourable) in colonies of 5-60 pairs (rarely more than 100 pairs) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It departs from the breeding grounds between August and October, returning late-February to early-June (Olsen and Larsson 2003). Most active migration occurs in November, with the first birds only arriving on the wintering grounds in December (Bering Sea, southeast Greenland, Davis Strait/Labrador Sea), and with birds from Greenland, Svalbard, and Russia arriving in sequence (Gilg et al. 2010). Most of the birds wintering in the Pacific are thought to originate from the largest Russian colonies - Kara Sea Islands and Severnaya Zemlya (Gilg et al. 2010). Between July-December they may travel 50,000 km on average, and even more for individuals that moved to the Pacific (Gilg et al. 2010). Outside of the breeding season the species is weakly gregarious, occurring singly or in flocks of up to 20 individuals (Snow and Perrins 1998). Larger numbers also gather in the spring at hooded seal Pagophilus groenlandicus whelping sites, where they feed on carrion and discarded placentae (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species also regularly follows polar bears Thalarctos maritimus to feed on scraps from their kill (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding It breeds in the high Arctic north of the July 5oC isotherm (Snow and Perrins 1998) on broad upper ledges of steep, inaccessible coastal or inland cliffs (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) up to 300 m high (Snow and Perrins 1998), on broken ice-fields or on bare, level shorelines with low rocks (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season it associates with the edges of pack-ice, showing a preference for areas with 70-90% ice cover (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of fish, shrimps, shellfish, algae and carrion (e.g. seal placentae) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), feeding mostly by hovering and contact dipping in open leads in ice-filled waters, or scavenging on marine mammal remains (Gilg et al. 2010). Breeding site The nest is constructed of moss, straw and other debris on a snow-free area of rock (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Nest sites include broad upper ledges of steep, inaccessible coastal or inland cliffs (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) up to 300 m high (Snow and Perrins 1998), broken ice-fields and bare, level shorelines with low rocks (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). On cliffs, pairs usually nest within 10 m of the top in small colonies with inter-nest distances of 1-20 m (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Systems:Terrestrial; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):12
Movement patterns:Full Migrant
Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is thought to be declining due to changes in conditions on its staging or wintering grounds (e.g. more severe winters, changing sea-ice distribution and thickness) (Gilchrist and Mallory 2005). The species is hunted (Gilchrist and Mallory 2005). Potential causes of the decline identified in Canada include illegal hunting (Stenhouse et al. 2004), oiling at sea, disturbance of colonies due to escalating diamond exploration and/or increased nest predation, and toxic pollutants that bioaccumulate at high trophic levels (Braune et al. 2006). For example, concentrations of total mercury in eggs of Ivory Gulls collected from Seymour Island, Canada, have steadily increased since 1976 to levels which are now among the highest measured in seabirds (Braune et al. 2006), which may have had a long-term effect on breeding productivity (C. Miljeteig in litt. 2007). Potentially having the same effect, levels of PCB and DDT are higher in Ivory Gull eggs than in all other Arctic seabirds (Braune et al. 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
A Norwegian-Russian project satellite tagged 31 individuals in 2007/2008 to assess movements at breeding grounds and their dispersal ability (Gilg et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor population trends throughout the range, with particular emphasis on determining rates of decline in main breeding areas. Research the magnitude of threats facing all populations. Protect colonies from mining action.

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Pagophila eburnea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22694473A37879176. . Downloaded on 21 October 2016.
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