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Sterna paradisaea

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA AVES CHARADRIIFORMES LARIDAE

Scientific Name: Sterna paradisaea
Species Authority: Pontoppidan, 1763
Common Name(s):
English Arctic Tern
French Sterne arctique
Taxonomic Notes: The BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group is aware that phylogenetic analyses have been published which have proposed generic rearrangements which may affect this species, but prefers to wait until work by other taxonomists reveals how these changes affect the entire groups involved.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Calvert, R.
Justification:
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.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Arctic Tern has a circumpolar range, breeding in the Arctic and subarctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America as far south as Brittany, France and Massachusetts (USA). It is a transequatorial migrant, and can be found wintering throughout the Southern Ocean to the edge of the Antarctic ice and the southern tips of South America and Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Overall population trends are relatively unknown, though the 2008 breeding season in the north of the United Kingdom was reported to be a failure by the RSPB.
Countries:
Native:
Angola (Angola); Antarctica; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Benin; Bermuda; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cameroon; Canada; Cape Verde; Chile; Colombia; Congo; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Denmark; Ecuador; Equatorial Guinea; Estonia; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); Faroe Islands; Finland; France; Gabon; Gambia; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Greenland; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Iceland; Ireland; Japan; Latvia; Liberia; Lithuania; Mauritania; Mexico; Morocco; Namibia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nigeria; Norway; Paraguay; Peru; Poland; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Russian Federation; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Spain; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Togo; United Kingdom; United States
Vagrant:
Algeria; Belarus; Bulgaria; Central African Republic; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Egypt; French Southern Territories; Gibraltar; Guadeloupe; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Israel; Italy; Jordan; Kuwait; Lesotho; Libya; Luxembourg; Marshall Islands; Montenegro; Mozambique; Oman; Panama; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Sudan; Switzerland; Turkey; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Uruguay; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Present - origin uncertain:
Bouvet Island; Guatemala; Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is estimated to number > c.2,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while the population in Russia has been estimated at c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour The species is a very strong migrant and makes exceptional long-distance movements offshore or along western continental coastlines (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Melville and Shortridge 2006) between its high Arctic breeding grounds and Antarctic wintering grounds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds between May and July (although the exact timing varies with temperature and food availability) in solitary pairs or colonies of a few to several hundred pairs (usually 2-25) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and remains gregarious throughout the year especially when roosting, foraging (Snow and Perrins 1998) and on passage (Higgins and Davies 1996). The species generally feeds within 3 km of breeding colonies but may occasionally forage up to 50 km away (del Hoyo et al. 1996). On its wintering grounds in Antarctica it may also forage in association with Antarctic Minke Whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis in the open ocean north of the pack-ice zone (Higgins and Davies 1996). Habitat Breeding The species breeds along northern coastlines (del Hoyo et al. 1996)and on inshore islands (Flint et al. 1984, Snow and Perrins 1998) as well as inland on tundra and forest-tundra (Flint et al. 1984). It shows a preference for habitats with a vegetation cover of less than 40 %, nesting on sand or shingle beaches, ridges (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and spits (Flint et al. 1984), rocky ground (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and small islands (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) in lakes and coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It may also nest on islets or banks along rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998), on swampy tundra (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and peatlands with bog hummocks (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and reed-covered flats (Flint et al. 1984), or on inland heaths, rough pastures (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), meadows (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and sedge grassland (Snow and Perrins 1998) not far from water (Flint et al. 1984). The species also forages offshore, in ice-filled coastal bays or over wet tundra (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding On passage it largely flies over open ocean (Snow and Perrins 1998) resting at sea on kelp, logs or flotsam, but may occur inland or along coastlines on beaches, reefs and spits (Higgins and Davies 1996). During the winter the species is pelagic, foraging at the edges of pack-ice, icebergs and ice-floes near shore (especially in channels between ice-floes) (Higgins and Davies 1996) and up to 24 km offshore (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996) often in association with Antarctic Minke Whale Balaenoptera bonaerensis (Higgins and Davies 1996). It also roosts on ice-floes and icebergs during this season (Higgins and Davies 1996). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of fishas well as crustaceans (especially planktonic species), molluscs, insects (e.g. caterpillars, Chironomidae) and earthworms (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It will also take berries in the early spring on arrival on its breeding grounds but does not readily switch to other prey items when preferred prey supplies fail (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape (del Hoyo et al. 1996) in sand, shingle or turf (Richards 1990) on beaches, ridges (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and spits (Flint et al. 1984), rocky ground (Flint et al. 1984, Richards 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1996), small islands (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998) in lakes, coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and rivers (Snow and Perrins 1998), swampy tundra (Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and peatlands with bog hummocks (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and reed-covered flats (Flint et al. 1984), or on inland heaths, rough pastures (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), meadows (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and sedge grassland (Snow and Perrins 1998) not far from water (Flint et al. 1984). It will also nest on artificial structures (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Management information Removing feral American mink Neovison vison from a large archipelago with many small islands in the Baltic Sea resulted in an increase in the breeding density of this species in the area (Nordstrom et al. 2003). Gull control measures may also be practised successfully at some sites to reduce predation and displacement, especially when carried out in conjunction with the use of recordings and models to induce recolonistion of nesting terns (Buckley and Buckley 1984).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is potentially threatened by climate change because it has a geographically bounded distribution: its global distribution is restricted to within c.10o latitude from the polar edge of continent and within which 20-50% of current vegetation type is projected to disappear under doubling of CO2 levels (Birdlife International, unpublished data).

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Sterna paradisaea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 October 2014.
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